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HSE updates guidance on enforcement for welding fumes

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has updated its enforcement guidance after new evidence found that exposure to even mild steel welding fume can cause lung cancer and possibly kidney cancer.

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The regulator announced earlier this year that it is reclassifying welding fumes, including those produced from mild steel, as a human carcinogen.

As a result it no longer permits any welding to be undertaken without suitable exposure control measures being in place, regardless of the duration.

The new rules – which apply to all industries – are that any exposure to welding fumes must be controlled by effective engineering measures. The stricter enforcement measures come after the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) evidence showed that general ventilation does not achieve the necessary control.

In a workshop or indoor environment, this will typically be local exhaust ventilation (LEV) which will also control workers’ exposure to manganese, which has been linked to neurological effects similar to Parkinson’s disease.

The HSE's updated guidance reminds stakeholders that their risk assessments should reflect the change in the expected control measures.


Kellie is a freelance writer and former online editor of the Health and Safety at Work website.
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