With the recent release of Health and Safety statistics at work for Great Britain in 2017/2018, it is interesting to see that 12,000 occupational lung disease deaths each year are estimated to be linked to past exposures at work, with 20,000 new cases of breathing or lung problems caused or made worse by work each year on average over the last three years, according to self-reported estimates from the Labour Force Survey. However, no spotlight is shone on the welding industry of which part of these statistics are formed.
Welding is an extremely important part of UK industry both in terms of supporting our home market as well as the goods that we export globally. It is estimated that there are 190,000 workers in the UK who weld, comprising of around 73,000 professional, skilled welders and many other unskilled or semi-skilled welders who carry out welding as part of their job. In this article we would like to spread the word that great help and advice is to hand for employers, employees and work related management to access in order to plan for better health & safety measures to be put in place.
There are a number of health hazards associated with welding in particular the following:
These are very fine solid particles temporarily suspended in the air.
These may include ozone and, in the case of metal inert gas (MIG) and tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding, inert gases that can present a problem when working in confined spaces.
- UV radiation from the welding arc
This can affect the eye (“arc eye”) and skin and is also responsible for the generation of ozone from atmospheric oxygen.
Controlling exposures to prevent occupational lung disease in manufacturing where workers are at high risk from fumes given off by welding and hot cutting processes which give off very fine particles that cause cancer, COPD and an increased susceptibility to pneumonia must be a priority for UK industry.
The Chartered Society For Worker Health Protection (BOHS) brilliantly highlights the ‘Breathe Freely in Manufacturing’ campaign with superb expert advice on this very subject. We here at Action Handling Equipment Ltd advise anyone involved in the welding industry to access their site and to use the Control Selector Toolkit that is available.
Improve your worker safety on site with the use of welding screens and breathing masks.
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