Welders are spread across many manufacturing and fabrication industries and present in both large and small businesses. The cancer burden study data shows that there are approximately 152 deaths per year from lung cancer and we estimate numbers of workers exposed to welding fume is more than 75,000.
Welding fume is variable in its composition. Depending on the type of welding being performed, the resulting fume is a complex mixture of gases and salts, including metals such as chromium and nickel and other compounds. Some of the constituents of the fume have Workplace Exposure Limits (legal limits that have been set on the amount of a particular substance that can be present in workplace air).
A partnership group composed of trade associations, professional organisations, suppliers, Association of Welding Distributors, Unite, AWFTE and the Welding Institute was set up to design interventions and these include:
- Safety and Health Awareness Days - free events to provide practical advice for welders
- A vocational learning package for trainee welders and those wanting to re-fresh their skills.
- An independent website for the industry to raise awareness of the health effects from exposures to welding fume and suitable control methods.
By registering, more information on welding interventions is available on the Occupational Diseases Community site.
Further information on exposure to welding fume on the workplace is available on HSE's welding pages.