There are several metal cutting processes which produce fumes and health effects similar to welding fume.
Fume generated by these processes has not been classified as carcinogenic. The fume, however, is a substance hazardous to health and subject to the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH).
If the process is remotely operated the control measures should be the same as for other workers in the area.
If the process is not carried out by remote operation and the operator is exposed to the fume generated, you should provide adequate control of exposure to a similar standard as you would for welding processes.
Common cutting processes include:
- plasma cutting, which uses the principle of a welding arc to cut metal with a clean profile. Most plasma cutting has pre-programmed computer numerical control with the operator at a distance from the fume source
- laser cutting, which uses a focused laser beam, usually with an annular gas jet to create a fine cut, with minimal loss of material and a quality profile. Most laser cutting has pre-programmed computer numerical control with the operator at a distance from the fume source
- flame cutting, also known as torch or oxygen-gas cutting, is a chemical reaction between pure oxygen and steel to form iron oxide. It is rapid, controlled rusting. Only low-carbon steel and some low alloys can be cut effectively with this process
- arc-air gouging, an arc-cutting process where the metals to be cut are melted by the heat of a carbon arc. The most common metals cut with the process include cast irons, copper alloys and stainless steel. You should also control noise risks when using this cutting process