Changes to UK welding fume control standards: what you need to know

  Trumpet| CPD | 21 January 2019

Welding regulationsThe UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has announced some important news on raised control standards for welding fumes.

On 14 January, the HSE shared with the Industry and Regulatory Forum on Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) that they have raised enforced control measures for welding operations in the UK.

This follows an announcement from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), who classified welding fumes and UV radiation from welding as Group 1 carcinogens. IARC published their findings in Lancet Oncology in 2017 in a paper titled ‘Carcinogenicity of welding, molybdenum trioxide, and indium tin oxide’.

The raised enforced control standards are highlighted below:

  • All forms of welding fume can cause cancer.
  • Control is required
    • Indoor welding tasks require the use of LEV. If LEV is unable to control fume capture then Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) is also required.
    • Outdoor welding requires use of RPE.
  • Enforcement of the raised control standards is with immediate effect under COSHH Regulation 7.

The HSE will issue a Safety Alert in the near future and control requirements will be communicated through the HSE website. They are also currently developing an intervention plan.

Duty holders are advised to follow guidance in the BOHS Welding Fume Control Selector Tool - see Breathe Freely website.

Michael Edwards, OSH Content Developer, who represents IOSH on the LEV committee has explained what this means for IOSH members.

He said: “These changes to control standards for welding fumes currently only affect members working within the UK and will have implications to a whole range of different industries where welding operations occur. For those members outside

of the UK, we can expect that your local regulators may also extend their enforcement position in the future, as this is based on evidence from an international agency.

“IOSH recommends that all members in the UK review current welding control measures in place to ascertain that they meet these raised control standards. This may also mean that risk assessments and risk registers may need updating to ensure that they reflect the new requirements.

“Members who provide advice to external clients must also be aware of these changes to ensure that they advise them on the correct controls for the type of welding operation.”

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