In this week’s Health and Safety news, the HSE has revised its welding guidance, so to support your Health and Safety in the workplace we thought we’d take this opportunity to go over the employee responsibilities when it comes to welding controls.
Welding is of course a process that joins materials, usually metals, by causing heat or pressure or both.
How can employers control the risks?
There are 3 main ways to control the risks associated with welding and the toxic fumes it produces, here’s a quick reminder of what they are.
1. Avoid or reduce exposure
To protect workers from the health risks of inhaling welding fume, think how you might be able to use alternative joining, cutting or surface preparation methods that produce less fume or dust.
Consider doing the job in a different way. Some suggestions include:
- automate or mechanise the process, by using distance welding, turntables or enclosing the work
- reduce the amount of welding
- use materials or a process that generates less fumes
- use clean metals
2. Use local exhaust ventilation (LEV)
If you can’t avoid welding in your workplace, use local exhaust ventilation systems for indoor working to help remove fumes at their source (extraction or fume control).
LEV works by using an air-flow to remove contaminated air from the process for capture by the hood.
Check out the HSE guidance on choosing the right LEV using these COSHH essentials welding sheets.
3. Use suitable respiratory protective equipment (RPE)
If you cannot achieve adequate control from LEV alone, or if it is not reasonably practicable to provide LEV, you must provide your workers with suitable respiratory protective equipment (RPE).
So if they’re welding with LEV but not all the fumes are captured you might be able to see or smell residual uncaptured fumes, then you’re not controlling the risk and you should also provide respiratory protective equipment.
For welding outdoors, local exhaust ventilation will not work, so workers should use suitable RPE to control exposure.
Remember, you should always provide appropriate:
- personal protective equipment for your welders
- shielding to protect other workers from eye damage
What if you need more help with Health and Safety in the Workplace?
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