More About Our Welding Fume Extraction Products
Welding Fume Exposure Reclassification
In 2019, HSE (Health and Safety Executive) released a safety alert for mild steel welding fume. In the alert, HSE stated there no level of safe exposure for mild steel welding fume, and subsequently, reclassified welding fume as a carcinogenic. Following this, HSE changed their enforcement expectations in relation to the control of exposure of welding fume, including that from mild steel welding.
BLOG: HSE Weld Fume: Safety Concerns Raised
In this blog, we've looked at the HSE's safety alert update in relation to the change in enforcement expectations for mild steel welding fumes in more detail. Click here to read more.
When Should LEV be Provided?
According to the HSE, LEV should be provided for the following welding activities:
- Moderate to high volume MAG MIG welding, small or medium-sized part production, welding on a bench; or in a screened off area. Welding on carbon mild steels and aluminium;
- High volume production welding using TIG on stainless steels or aluminium;
- Welding of stainless steels for stick welding, using MIG, MAG, Flux cored or MMA;
- Arc air gouging;
- Welding or hot cutting galvanised materials (e.g. zinc plated);
- Welding or hot cutting materials containing cadmium, painted with lead or chromate paints
- Automated cutting of flame or plasma requires LEV extraction, but this is usually built-in
- Automated multi-head resistance welding machines.
You can find out more about when the HSE advise the use of a comprehensive LEV extraction system by clicking here.
HSE's Control Measures
HSE instantly put out suitable exposure control measures to help control the cancer risk. Exposure from activities such as MIG/TIG welding should adequately be controlled using engineering controls, typically local exhaust ventilation (LEV). Where LEV controls are put in place, they should be suitably instructed and trained and suitably maintained where required. This includes being subjective to an LEV test every 14 months.
No Safe Level of Exposure
It was announced that in February’s alert that there was no known level of safe exposure, regardless of duration and that they’ll now no longer accept any welding activities undertaken without the use of suitable control measures. Subsequently, they advise that businesses need to make sure that exposure to welding fume is adequately controlled with the use of suitable engineering controls, which typically involve the use of a local exhaust ventilation (LEV) system. Read the full update here.
After the reclassification in 2019, HSE has announced that they will be increasing the number of inspections they'll be carrying out across the UK. Their aim was to educate businesses the risk of welding fume, amongst other hazards in the workplace to help and encourage them to provide the necessary engineering controls to control exposure.
Employers should be using local exhaust ventilation where effective and provide suitable respiratory protective equipment where necessary to protect workers in the metal fabrication industry from inhaling fumes.
John Rowe, Head of Manufacturing at HSE said: “Employers and workers should know the risk, plan their work and use the right controls when welding activity is carried out. If they are not HSE will use enforcement to bring about improvements.
“It is our mission that all workers are protected and are not made ill or killed by their work. Everyone should be able to leave work and go home healthy and safe.”
HSE Inspections 2021
HSE Letter 2021
In 2021, the HSE prepared fabricated metals businesses for inspections by writing to them and requesting them to sign a declaration. The declaration was to confirm whether the business undertook either welding or metalworking fluid (MWF) activities and whether or not they are adequately controlling exposures. The information gathered from the declarations is being used for operation purposes.
The HSE are continuing to increase their focus on the risks from welding fume and metalworking fluids with targeted inspections between May and September 2021. HSE advise that businesses may be visited by one of their inspectors to ensure that you are complying with the law by assessing the health and safety risks in your workplace and the ensuring the appropriate control measures are in places. HSE advise that any key health and safety risks to employees in your workplace are addressed from exposures.
Welding Fume Extraction and Metalworking Fluid Risks
Exposure to metalworking fluids and welding fumes can be detrimental to human health and can cause lung diseases such as asthma and cancer and dermatitis. HSE advise that free guidance is available to help identify the right control measures for your business. Please click on the links below.
HSE Recommended Welding Extraction Solutions
HSE advise how best to control the risk of welding fumes to protect workers in three easy to follow steps.
- Avoid or reduce exposure
- Use local exhaust ventilation (LEV) to remove the fume, with the use of a welding fume extraction system.
- Use suitable respiratory protective equipment (RPE) to protect workers from inhaling fumes.
In many scenarios, avoiding or reducing welding processes exposure isn't necessarily practical. There are many different types of welding extraction equipment solutions on the market. HSE have made recommendations which extraction equipment methods should be used to extract fumes away from the working environment. Browse our full range of welding extraction products here.
1. On-Torch (high-vacuum) Extraction Systems
MIG welding torches, within with on-torch welding extraction offer a complete solution to the current HSE requirements as they remove the weld fumes away at-source. According to the most recent HSE welding fume facts, this is where the concentration of harmful substances will be highest, in what is called the 'plume of fume' that rise at the immediate point from the welding arc.
On torch extraction involves the use of a specialist welding gun, which features an integrated extraction tool functionality. Fumes are removed from over the welding pool at the welding point by a high vacuum system. The welding nozzle (at the tip of the torch), guns feature small openings which draw away welding fumes at the source. Fumes are carried through the hose into either a portable or centralised high-vacuum system. These then collects and filters the fumes and returns clean air to the workshop.
2. Downdraught Benches
Downdraught benches provides a user with a workstation that captures dust and fumes whilst working. They are ideal in industrial working environments for dust and fume extraction and industrial processes, such as, welding and grinding dust extraction. They remove harmful substances directly from the operator’s breathing zone.
3. Movable LEV
All variations of extraction arms provide an ideal solution to capture fumes at-source, providing its being used properly be the operator.
- Extraction Arms - Fixed extraction arm LEV systems are proven to be a very popular and diverse product for our LEV installations as they provide at-source extraction and remove the pollutant from the workplace before it has the opportunity to dissipate into the workplace.
- Tubular Extraction Arms - These solutions feature a tubular structure and are ideal for tough working environments and industrial processes and have less pressure loss.
- Mobile Welding Fume Extractor - A portable solution that features a two or three-metre-long externally-supported extraction arm, which has the ability to be moved around a work piece or workplace.
Request your FREE LEV Site Assessment Today!
We'll call to arrange a convenient time and date to visit your site. We'll analyse your working processes, assess the substances used and the contaminants generated. We'll work out how best to control the dust and fume in a way that's in line with your COSHH risk assessment. Next, we'll design you a comprehensive LEV system that adheres to HSG258 guidance and send this you to via email.
We'll do all this to ensure we fully understand your dust and fume extraction requirements and help you to provide a pollution-free workplace!
This is an amazing service we do for thousands of businesses throughout the UK and Ireland every year. We work with such a wide variety of industries, from manufacturing, industrial, woodworking, pharmaceutical and automotive workshops to schools, colleges and military establishments.
Request your FREE, no-obligation LEV site assessment today!
Why Choose Us?
Auto Extract Systems is the UK’s leading Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) company. Over the last 20 years, we've helped thousands of businesses create dust and fume free workplaces.
As experts in all things LEV, we can help your business become COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) Regulation 2002 compliant with a tailored LEV solution. We provide comprehensive design, installation, maintenance and certification services across a range of industry sectors. Find out more about us here.
Additional Exposure Controls
HSE stated that additional PPE (personal protective equipment) should be provided as a secondary measure to help protect staff from fume exposure. Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) such as face masks should be used to protect against the residual fume.
HSE’s Fee For Intervention (FFI) Scheme
Avoid being fined and be legally compliant when controlling welding fume exposure in your workplace. HSE took a fabrication company to court and were heavily fined after failing to act upon three improvement notices, read the full article here. HSE issued a fabrication company three improvement notices for not providing welding fume LEV controls and also for not completing LEV Testing on their wood dust and powder coating LEV equipment.
Following an investigation, HSE advised the company of issues during their initial visit in February 2018, at their second visit during December 2018 and on their third and final visit in April 2019. However, the company failed to act upon the receipt of Notification of Contravention letter by the set completion date. As a result, HSE took the company to Magistrates’ Court where they pleaded guilty to breaching Section 33(1) (g) of the Health and Safety At work etc Act 1974. The company was subsequently fined £12,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,740.40.
After the hearing, HSE inspector Martin Giles commented, “The failure to comply with an improvement notice is a serious offence. If you receive a notice, you should ensure you take appropriate action to correct the health and safety problems and breaches that are identified in the notice.”
The press release comes as no surprise after HSE sent declaration forms to manufacturing businesses earlier in November. The declaration forms are to clarify whether or not the Managing Director (or person responsible for health and safety) are aware of the change in exposure control measures for mild steel welding fume, and ensure that the business is legally compliant or does not undertake any welding activities.
HSE Welding Fume Extraction Guidance for Managers
Shortly after the reclassification and the enforcement expectations changed, HSE released new guidance for managers. in November 2019, the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) released revised task-specific COSHH guidance for welding, cutting and allied jobs to help managers make sure that exposure to all kinds of welding fume is controlled in the workplace.
On the HSE's website, they have different guidance sheets depending on the task you're undertaking. These include:
- WL0 - Advice For Managers
- WL2 - Welding in Confined/Limited/Restricted Spaces
- WL3 - Welding Fume Control
The ‘WL3 – Welding Fume Control’ guidance, it describes good control practices for a specific type of welding task, the frequency and duration of which it’s undertaken. The guidance advises that extracted air should be discharged outside the building to a safe place away from doors, windows and air inlets. It also states that it’s the exposure to the hazardous gases generated from welding processes that cause long and short-term health issues.
In addition, they have specific guidance for cutting processes, which include manual gas and oxy-gas cutting, plasma arc cutting and air-air gouging.
There are guidance sheets for surface preparation, via pressure blasting for small, medium and large items. Finally, there's welding cleaning with pickling paste.
WL3: Welding Fume Control Guidance
The guidance describes good control practices when using local exhaust ventilation controls, respiratory protective equipment and general ventilation. It covers the points to follow to reduce exposure for manual metal arch (MMA or stick) welding; flux-cored arc (FCA) welding, metal inert gas (MIG) and metal active gas (MAG) welding, gas welding, tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding and resistance spot welding.
Good Welding Fume Control Practices
The guidance explains good control practices for different welding process types and the frequency and duration of welding. See the table below.
Frequency and Duration Welding
Frequency and duration of welding
|Welding Type||Good Control Practice|
|Sporadic/Low-intensity Welding||Gas, MMA, FCA, MIG & MAG||LEV, good ventilation & RPE|
|Regular high-intensity welding||Gas, MMA, FCA, MIG & MAG||LEV & supplementary RPE|
|Regular high-intensity welding outdoors||Gas, MMA, FCA, MIG, MAG, TIG||RPE, where LEV isn't practical|
|Sporadic/Occasional low-intensity welding||TIG & Resistance spot welding||General Ventilation|
|Regular high-intensity welding||TIG & Resistance spot welding||LEV|
Health Effects Welding Fume Causes
HSE's enforcement expectations came about after research came to light in The Lancet article on IARC Monograph. The research was published in the International Agency for Research for Cancer (IARC)'s publication; Welding, Molybdenum Trioxide, and Indium Tin Oxide. IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans (Volume 118).
The new evidence that came to light that stating: "There is sufficient evidence in humans for the carcinogenicity of welding fumes to lung cancer. Whilst positive associations have also been observed for kidney cancer."
BLOG: What are the Dangers of Welding Fume?
In this blog, we’ve assessed what welding fumes are, how the different compounds affect your body, the risks associated to exposure and the best control measures to reduce risk. Click here to read more.
BOHS Welding Selector Tool
With such a wide range of welding extraction systems available, it can be hard to know which the right method of LEV for your business. Although this is all dependant on how much welding your business is completing on a monthly. BOHS (the British Occupational Hygiene Society) have created a welding selector tool - a web-based tool to help businesses on welding fume control guidance. It's been assembled by a panel of industry experts, including (consultancies, academia and the HSE) to inform managers and supervisors of the best control methods for welding fume. However, the tool is not a substitute for thorough workplace COSHH risk assessments.
How does the Welding Selector Tool work?
It works by prompting you to answer four simple task-related questions and the tool will then generate a guidance sheet with the recommended extraction control solution. The tool ranks extraction solutions on a one-to-five star rating, based on the effectiveness of the control.
The tool also takes in to consideration the reliability of the control solution and how effective it is to minimise exposure consistently. The control method is heavily dependent on the worker adopting a good working practice every time when working for the control to be as low as reasonably practical.
Other Factors to Consider
The welding extractor selection tool doesn't cover all other health and safety hazards that are commonly associated with welding tasks, for example, how large or confined a work area is to carry out welding activities, the preparation of the workplace and other commonly associated tasks, such as grinding, surface cleaning or removing paint with chemicals. These factors are all to consider when specifying the right ventilation system for your business.
BOHS Control Sheets and Management Guidance Sheets
On the BOHS's welding selection tool, there's welding fume control sheets available for managers and duty holders, which, depending on the answers selected whilst using the tool, a control sheet is produced with the ideal exposure control solution. Controls sheets are available to download here.
In addition to control sheets, there's also management guidance sheets available to download (click here). There are five sheets that download,
- Air monitoring
- LEV Design
- Installation, Commission, Maintenance and testing
- Respiratory Health Surveillance Checks and
- Training and Supervision of Welders
The management guidance sheets are beneficial to managers and duty holders to educate and inform how to effectively control the risk, but also to protect workers from occupational lung disease.
Industry processes we can add value to:
- Welding fume extraction
- Brazing fume extraction
- Solder fume extraction
- General ventilation fume and heat extraction
- Industrial fume extraction