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SME owners & welders

What you must do

Fume and gases from welding and cutting

For further information see health topics.

Preventing fire and explosion

Clear away wood, fabric, cardboard and other flammable material before starting the job. Remember that the heat, sparks and drips of metal and slag can travel a considerable distance and can start fires in adjacent rooms.

You may need a person to act as a fire watcher. They should remain on watch for at least 30 minutes after the hot work finishes.

For further information see the Welding - Preventing fire and explosion pages. For more detailed generic information see the HSE fire and explosion pages.

Hot work on tanks and drums may have had flammable liquids in them

Empty and clean the inside of them. Free HSE guidance Hot work on Drums and Tanks gives a simple description of the safe way to do this work.

Got acetylene in the back of your van?

Close the tank valve when you’re not using it. It’s the best way to prevent gas leaks.

For further information see the Welding - Preventing fire and explosion pages. For more detailed generic information see the HSE fire and explosion pages.

Lack of oxygen in confined spaces

Use of inert gases and some common chemical reactions (eg rusting) can reduce the amount of oxygen inside enclosed spaces such as tanks, pipes and pits

Working in these locations is dangerous. Before you enter a confined space:

For further information see the HSE confined spaces webpage.

Noise and vibration

The common welding process MIG,TIG, MMA, resistance welding, etc generally do not generate harmful levels of noise or vibration. However welders often use grinders, scalers, arc gougers and other tools that can generate significant amounts of noise and vibration.

For further information see the noise and vibration webpages.

Electric shock

For further information see the HSE electrical safety pages.

On-site and offshore welders

Unlike factory welders, the onsite welders will face highly variable circumstances and conditions. As a result the health and safety measures you need to take may also change frequently. Much of the risks that an on-site welder will face are the same as other industrial workers (eg working at height, lifting and slinging, manual handling).

Updated 2013-01-29