Welding: Health Hazards

Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered at on 29 February 2024.

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Photo of Rachael Maskell Rachael Maskell Labour/Co-operative, York Central

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps he is taking with Cabinet colleagues to help ensure that businesses provide adequate respiratory protective equipment to people at risk of residual welding fume.

Photo of Paul Maynard Paul Maynard The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) require that businesses ensure that exposure to substances hazardous to health, like welding fume, are either prevented or, where this is not reasonably practicable, adequately controlled.

The key control measure should be the use of appropriate local exhaust ventilation (LEV) to extract welding fume from the work area. Where LEV is not reasonably practicable, for example in an outdoor environment, or where the LEV on its own cannot provide adequate control then the business has a duty to provide respiratory protective equipment (RPE) to control the residual risk.

The HSE conducts regular inspection campaigns targeting the industries where welding is prevalent. Part of the inspection is to check that welders have the appropriate RPE where required.

The COSHH Essentials Welding Sheet WL3 gives welders guidance on the appropriate type of mask and grade of filters, suitable for welding, Welding fume control (hse.gov.uk).

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