Farmers are being reminded that they must protect their workers’ health by controlling the risks from welding fume.
The Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) current programme of inspections will review health and safety standards on farms across the country, and the industry is being encouraged to visit HSE’s revised guidance to remind themselves of the changes to control expectations.
To protect your workers’ health, you must ensure you have adequate controls in place to avoid or reduce exposure to welding fume. Employers should be using local exhaust ventilation where effective and provide suitable respiratory protective equipment where necessary to protect workers in the metal fabrication industry from inhaling fumes.
The inspections follow a safety alert that was issued in February 2019 after new evidence showed exposure to mild steel welding fume can cause cancer and HSE updated guidance to reflect this.
Scientific evidence from the International Agency for Research on Cancer shows that exposure to mild steel welding fume can cause lung cancer and possibly kidney cancer in humans.
Adrian Hodkinson, Acting Head of Agriculture at HSE said: “Everyone involved in farming has a role to play. While welding carried out in the agricultural sector can be infrequent or of low-intensity, employers still need to understand the risk they and their employees face in terms of exposure to welding fume, and the simple ways they can be managed.
“Farmers are reminded that death, injuries and cases of ill-health are not an inevitable part of farming.”