Welding Fume Update


New advice from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) revises level of threat to life from welding fumes.

The HSE has released a safety alert this month following new scientific evidence linking exposure to welding fumes to lung and kidney cancer.

In response to these findings, the HSE have revised the corresponding engineering controls required for welding, stating that all welding activities now require control measures to be in place – even when welding outside.


What’s happened?

New scientific evidence from the International Agency for Research on Cancer has shown that mild steel welding fumes can cause lung cancer, and possibly kidney cancer.

The Workplace Health Expert Committee has endorsed these findings and reclassified mild steel welding as a carcinogen.

There is currently no known level of safe exposure. Therefore, all welding activities, no matter duration, location or type, now require suitable exposure control measures.


Who does this affect?

All workers, employers, self-employed, contractors and members of the public that undertake welding activities across all industries – regardless of location (inside/outside) or duration.


What does it mean?

General ventilation does not protect you from the hazardous effects of welding fumes.

Suitable respiratory controls must be in-place for all welding. This includes:

Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV)
Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE)



What should I do?

  • Make sure any exposure to welding fumes is adequately controlled using engineering controls
  • Make sure that suitable controls are in place for all welding, even welding outdoors or for a short period of time
  • Make sure that suitable and adequate RPE is provided to control risk from any residual fumes, even outside
  • Make sure that all controls are used correctly, maintained and thoroughly assessed and documented
  • Make sure that all RPE used is subject to your RPE Programme and adheres to general RPE guidance (e.g. tight-fitting respirators need to be Fit Tested before first use)


Still confused?

If welding fumes or any other respiratory regulations are getting you down, give our RPE Experts a call. Offering free RPE consultations and advice, simply get in touch:

01933 672180