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11th February 2020

HSE Targets Metalwork Companies

What’s happening?

HSE inspectors will be carrying out an inspection blitz of businesses that undertake metalwork in the first quarter of 2020.

The HSE says that its inspectors will be visiting businesses across the UK where welding takes place to check that risks are being appropriately managed. They’re also checking that employers have put in place the required arrangements to protect staff exposed to metalworking fluid.

Welding fume

As we reported in our recent blog mild steel welding fume was reclassified as a human carcinogen and this led to a policy change at the HSE in early 2019 which expects employers to do much more to protect welders’ health. HSE said it would “no longer accept any welding undertaken without any suitable exposure control measures in place, as there is no known level of safe exposure”

Prior to this welding fume was already known to be harmful, and mechanical extraction of the fumes was often required when working indoors. However, under the new regime, this became compulsory regardless of the scale of the work. Respiratory protective equipment is now mandatory for all outdoor welding operations and for indoor work if the local exhaust ventilation cannot capture the fumes effectively.

Be prepared!

If you carry out metal fabrication and this is either obvious or already known to the HSE, you should prepare for a visit, and these are highly likely to be totally unannounced.

If metalwork is only a minor part of your business activities, you may not be specifically targeted. However, be warned – if inspectors are on your site for other reasons and spot that you’re carrying out this type of work, they are likely to bring it up!

Make sure you update your risk/COSHH assessments, and where local exhaust ventilation is installed, ensure you have had the thorough examination undertaken and that remains current (i.e. within 14 months.)

If you are found not to be following the new guidelines and you’re caught out, you expect an improvement notice as a minimum.

If you have any queries don’t hesitate to call our consultants today on 0815 459 1724 or get in touch with us on email

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