Welders are particular prone to lung related illness such as Pneumonia, Occupational Asthma, Metal Fume Fever and Cancer.
The fume given off by welding and hot metal cutting processes is a varying mixture of airborne gases and very fine particles which if inhaled can cause ill health. Gases such as NOx, ozone, and carbon monoxide may be present in welding and cutting fume.
The visible part of the fume cloud is mainly particles of metal, metal oxide and flux with differing exposure limits for each potential metal present. Welding of stainless steel may generate a fume containing over 15 different metal oxides.
The exact level of risk of exposure to either the gases or particulate fumes will depend on a number of factors:
- How toxic the fume is (this varies greater depending on the combination of the welding technique and metal being welded)
- How concentrated the fume is (this will depend on the working environment and extent of ventilation)
- How long you are breathing the fume (this will depend on the shift lenght and intensity of welding but can only be accurately measured by personal exposure monitoring)
ACTIONS AND ADVICE
The first step in the process is to carryout a risk assessment by identifing what welding activities are being carried out on your site, this should include the range of welding techniques used and metal combinations. The next step should then be to commission a series of actual personal exposure assessments that cover the full range of activities.
Depending on the exposure levels it may then be neccessary to install some form of extraction system or respiratory protection that is adeqaute to cover the type of exposure likely from the welding activities.
HOW CAN WE HELP?
Our consultants are here to help you and can develop and implement monitoring strategies to indentify if maximum exposure limits are being exceeded with respect to metal fumes and gases in the workplace. Our team we will advise on appropriate measures to be taken to reduce the risk of exposure and ensure you comply with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations.
INTERESTED IN WELDING FUME EXPOSURE TESTING?
If you need any further assistance or would like to know more please get in touch and we will get back to you as soon as we can.