From the 4th of May 2021, the HSE will be targeting firms across Great Britain in a new series of inspections focussing on metal fabrication businesses to check that they are managing the respiratory risks of welding fumes and metalworking fluids.

The HSE inspectors will be focussing on workers who undertake welding and use metalworking fluids to check that they are complying with the welding fumes guidance and metalworking fluid guidance.

welder factoryDuring the visits, dutyholders will need to demonstrate they have measures in place to manage risks to protect their workers from occupational lung disease.

Last year in the UK, 12,000 people died from lung diseases estimated to be linked to past exposure, from work in a range of sectors. There is scientific evidence that exposure to welding fumes can cause lung cancer and exposure to metalworking fluids can cause a range of lung diseases, including occupational asthma and occupational hypersensitivity pneumonitis (OHP), which are debilitating diseases with life changing impact.

Inspectors will be looking for evidence of employers and workers knowing the risks, planning their work and using the right controls to protect workers’ health. If necessary, they will use enforcement to make sure workers are protected.

HSE’s Acting Head of Manufacturing and Utilities Unit, Clare Owen, said: “Through visiting metal fabrication businesses, our inspectors are able to speak to a range of dutyholders and look at the measures they have in place to comply with the law and protect workers from lung diseases such as occupational asthma and lung cancer.

“Our inspection initiative aims to ensure employers and workers are aware of the risks associated with the activities they do. They must recognise these dangers and manage these risks through reducing exposure. Dutyholders need to do the right thing, for example, through completing a risk assessment, ensuring workers are trained and reducing exposure using local exhaust ventilation (LEV) and using suitable respiratory protective equipment (RPE) to protect workers, where required.

While the primary focus will be on lung health during this programme of inspections, if an HSE inspector identifies any other areas of concern, they will take the necessary enforcement action to ensure these are dealt with. This will include making sure that businesses are COVID-secure and doing all they can to protect their workers from the risk of coronavirus.

How can I make sure I am compliant?

As one of the UK’s leading workplace Health and Safety Consultants, we offer a range of services which can help you assess and control Health and Safety risks within your organisation and keep your business compliant. The compliance services we offer include:

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Further information is also available on the HSE website, including guidance and resources to help manage the risks from welding fumes and metalworking fluids.

References: https://press.hse.gov.uk/

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