Change in enforcement expectations for mild steel welding fume

From February 2019, any workers, employers, self-employed, contractors or anyone who undertakes welding activities in any industry must be protected against welding fumes.

This is due to new scientific evidence from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, that exposure to these welding fumes can cause lung cancer. There is suggestions that it might even lead to kidney cancer.

The Workplace Health Expert Committee has endorsed the reclassification of mild steel welding fume as a human carcinogen. With immediate effect, there is strengthening of HSE’s enforcement expectation for all welding fume, including mild steel welding; because general ventilation does not achieve the necessary control. Exposure to some welding fumes can cause metal fume fever, most commonly caused from welding galvanised steels.

All businesses undertaking welding activities should ensure effective engineering controls are provided for welding activities indoors e.g. Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV). Where LEV alone does not adequately control exposure, it should be supplemented by adequate and suitable Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) to protect against the residual fume. Appropriate RPE should also be provided for welding outdoors. Welders should also be suitably instructed and trained in the use of these controls.

Regardless of duration, HSE will no longer accept any welding undertaken without any suitable exposure control measures in place, as there is no known level of safe exposure. Risk assessments should reflect the change in the expected control measures and a proper RPE programme should be put in place ensuring suitable product selection including face fit testing, inspection, maintenance, cleaning and storage.

The HSE have specific guidance on their website which outlines control measures to consider when welding in a  variety of environments. In all cases when RPE is required a minimum Assigned Protection Factor (APF) of 20 is outlined. (HSE Safety Bulletin: STSU1 – 2019)

For more information, view and download our Fume Control Leaflet.

View and download our Welding Fume Control Leaflet >>




    • Always read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions, fitting, maintenance and storage requirements.
    • Training and face fit testing must be provided before wearing the RPE for the first time.
    • Inspect your RPE for damage or dirt before and after fitting.
    • Check compatibility with other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
    • The user must be clean shaven, especially around the seal area of the face every time a tight fitting mask is worn.
Jetstream® Welding Kit by JSP
Jetstream® Welding Kit by JSP

Jetstream® Switch & Go Unit
Jetstream® is a belt-mounted rechargeable respirator with a large capacity disposable filter supplying clean air through a highly flexible reinforced hose to a variety of head tops for different applications

The Jetstream® Welder kit carry case contains:

    • Cobra™  welding / grinding head top with shade 9-13 auto darkening filter
    • Flexible hose
    • A2PSL dust filters
    • Flow meter
    • Rechargeable battery
    • Multi-region plug adapter

View the range of Jetstream® Kits by JSP >>


Submit a Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *