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    HSE TARGETING WELDING FUME CANCER RISK

    Inspections to enforce improved controls required by new risk evidence

    HSE has issued a reminder to all employers that they must protect the health of workers by controlling the risks from welding fume – including fume generated during mild steel welding fume which evidence has shown can cause cancer.

    The regulator is presently undertaking a programme of inspections which will review health and safety standards across the country. Businesses are encouraged to read and act on the revised HSE Guidance which explains changes to the controls HSE expect to be adopted regarding welding fume.

    Effective LEV and suitable RPE

    To protect worker health from welding fume adequate controls must in place to avoid or reduce exposure to welding fume. Employers should be using local exhaust ventilation where effective and provide suitable respiratory protective equipment where necessary to protect from inhaling hazardous welding fumes.

    The HSE inspections follow a Safety Alert that was issued in February 2019 after new evidence showed exposure to mild steel welding fume can cause cancer and HSE updated guidance to reflect this.

    Scientific evidence from the International Agency for Research on Cancer shows that exposure to mild steel welding fume can cause lung cancer and possibly kidney cancer in humans.

    John Rowe, Head of Manufacturing at HSE said:

    “Employers and workers should know the risk, plan their work and use the right controls when welding activity is carried out. If they are not HSE will use enforcement to bring about improvements.”

    It is our mission that all workers are protected and are not made ill or killed by their work. Everyone should be able to leave work and go home healthy and safe.”

    HSE has a range of guidance to help you protect workers and COSHH advice sheets to help you control risk from the hazardous substances in welding.

     

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