Welding Fume Exposure: HSE Issues Safety Alert

Welding Fume Exposure: The Health and Safety Executive has issued a safety alert as a result of new scientific evidence, which suggests that exposure to welding fume, including mild steel welding fume, can cause lung cancer.

In addition, there are warnings about thoriated tungsten electrodes (see below).

Bulletin N. STSU1 – 2019

“All businesses undertaking welding activities should ensure effective engineering controls are provided and correctly used to control fume arising from those welding activities.

Where engineering controls are not adequate to control all fume exposure, adequate and suitable respiratory protective equipment (RPE) is also required to control risk from the residual fume.”

Action Required:

  • Make sure exposure to any welding fume released is adequately controlled using engineering controls (typically LEV).
  • Make sure suitable controls are provided for all welding activities, irrelevant of duration.  This includes welding outdoors.
  • Where engineering controls alone cannot control exposure, then adequate and suitable RPE should be provided to control risk from any residual fume.
  • Make sure all engineering controls are correctly used, suitably maintained and are subject to thorough examination and test where required.
  • Make sure any RPE is subject to an RPE programme. An RPE programme encapsulates all the elements of RPE use you need to ensure that your RPE is effective in protecting the wearer.

Eliminate Thoria:

Thoriated Tungsten Electrodes contain thoria, a radioactive element that can be dangerous to heath. During the grinding of the electrode there is a generation of radiotoxic dust, with the risk of this being inhaled by the welder.

Welders today continue to use thoriated Tungsten Electrodes. Because thoria was much cheaper than alternative elements to lower the work function of pure tungsten, this type became the industry standard.

welding fume exposure

To overcome the risk posed by the harmful thoria and whilst maintaining a very high life expectancy for the Tungsten Electrode, Huntingdon Fusion Techniques HFT®’s blue-tipped MultiStrike® Tungsten Electrodes contain a mix of non-radioactive rare earth elements, eliminating the risk to health posed by radioactive thoriated Tungsten Electrodes.

welding fume exposure

More information regarding the HSE Safety Alert.

If you would like additional information on this topic, or if you'd like To Understand Weld Purging & to Obtain Clean Weld Roots, contact Huntingdon Fusion Techniques, We'll Provide the Answers

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