Pavy Ltd

Environmental, Quality & Safety Consultants

HSE issue a safety alert for mild steel welding fume

The UK Health & Safety Executive (HSE) issued a safety alert in February 2019 about the change in enforcement expectations for mild steel welding fume. All welding fume is now classified as a carcinogen.

There is new scientific evidence from the International Agency for Research on Cancer that exposure to mild steel welding fume can cause lung cancer and has the potential to cause kidney cancer. As a consequence, the HSE has strengthened their enforcement expectations for exposure control for all welding fumes with immediate effect.

Actions required:

  1. Make sure exposure to any welding fume released is adequately controlled using engineering controls e.g. Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV).
  2. Make sure suitable controls are provided for all welding activities regardless of duration. This includes welding outdoors.
  3. Where engineering controls alone cannot control exposure, adequate and suitable respiratory protective equipment (RPE) should be used to protect against residual fume.
  4. Ensure all engineering controls are correctly used, suitably maintained and are subject to thorough examination and test where required.
  5. Implement a managed RPE programme to ensure correct usage, inspection, maintenance and storage of RPE.

For more information, see here.