Safety Alert from the HSE

The Workplace Health Expert Committee has endorsed the reclassification of mild steel welding fume as a human carcinogen.

This is because there is new scientific evidence that exposure to all welding fume, including mild steel welding fume, can cause lung cancer.  There is also limited evidence linked to kidney cancer.

Therefore the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) have strengthened their enforcement expectation for all welding fume , including mild steel welding.

Implications

  • As there is no known level of safe exposure, HSE will no longer accept any welding undertaken without any suitable exposure control measures in place.

  • All businesses undertaking welding activities should ensure effective engineering controls are provided and correctly used to control fume arising from those welding activities.

  • Suitable respiratory protective equipment (RPE) is also required where engineering controls are not adequate to control all fume exposure from the residual fume.

  • The HSE will expect ALL operators/users to adhere to the actions outlined in the Safety Alert with immediate effect

How to choose the correct welding fume control

To select the most effective form of control consider factors such as process, location, time, consumable material & extraction suitability.

There are a number of tools available from organisations such as the HSE and The Chartered Society for Worker Health Protection (BOHS) that help you to make the correct selection.