May 21, 2021
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The HSE have announced the launch of a programme of inspections targeting metal fabrication businesses. While these inspections will be focusing on the management of welding fume and metalworking fluids and protecting workers from respiratory health risks, inspectors will be alert for other hazards as well.

Exposure to welding fumes is linked to lung cancer and exposure to metalworking fluids can cause a range of lung diseases, including occupational asthma and occupational hypersensitivity pneumonitis.

HSE report that a similar campaign last year found that 70% of places inspected used Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) as a control measure, either as a sole control measure or along side Respiratory Protective Eqiupment (RPE). Where moveable capture hoods were use 80% were found to be performing well and while 78% of sites were using RPE, only 50% of tight-fitting respirators were being used correctly.

LEV is a ventilation system that takes dusts, mists, gases, vapour or fumes out of the air so that they can’t be breathed in. Where LEV systems are used in order for them to be effective it is important that the system is properly designed, installed, commissioned, tested and maintained.

RPE is used to protect an individual operator. There are many different types of RPE from air fed hoods to tight fitting face masks and it is vital that the right type is chosen which is suitable for the hazards and the wearer. Where tight fitting RPE is selected Face-fit testing should be carried out as these depend on achieving good contact between the wearer’s skin and the face seal of the RPE.

Tight fitting RPE must be put on correctly and checked for a good fit every time. Any facial hair will make it impossible to get a good seal of the mask to the face, being clean-shaven when wearing tight-fitting RPE will help prevent leakage of contaminated air around the edges of the RPE and into the lungs.

Please speak to your normal PIB Risk Management contact or get in touch using [email protected]  if you have any questions or would like assistance with managing health risks or arranging face-fit testing for your employees.