Advice for welding inspections in early 2020

In the months leading up to March 2020, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is carrying out proactive inspections in businesses where welding takes place to check that risks are being appropriately managed, and has offered some advice on interim arrangements for businesses.

Eight hundred proactive HSE inspections are planned on metal fabrication businesses during the months leading up to March 2020.

Half of those inspections will take place in February 2020 and the HSE has estimated that the initiative will hit 1 in 15 fabrication premises.

Welding fume is one of the HSE’s priority health targets as are metal working fluid mists.

The HSE is emphasising that all welding fume can cause lung cancer, and potentially kidney cancer, so employers must put controls in place.

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) regime provides the legal basis to help ensure exposure to any welding fume released is adequately controlled.

The HSE has published revised COSHH guidance, along with updated web pages on how to manage exposure to welding fume.

The HSE advises employers to carry out a full risk assessment before anyone starts welding work and notes that the Breathe Freely in Manufacturing Welding Fume Control Selector Tool can help identify the required controls.

Exposure to welding fume can be harmful so HSE inspectors will expect businesses to be able to demonstrate that they are properly protecting workers’ health.

However, the HSE says it recognises the changes might mean businesses need to plan for buying and implementing equipment if they don’t already have it in place.

The HSE recently said, “If you have already ordered new local exhaust ventilation (LEV) equipment but are waiting for it to be installed, then make sure you have an interim plan in place to minimise exposure, such as the provision of suitable respiratory protective equipment (RPE)”.

Contact us if you require guidance.


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