Adjusting to the HSE Welding Fume Legislation changes

weld failures

The Health and Safety Executive have recently announced that there will be changes in legislation due to mild steel exposure potentially causing cancer. Now that requirements are changing, it can be difficult to keep up to date with what a welding environment must legally be fitted with. Here you will find how you can reduce the amount of fume you generate, thus reducing the risk of the welder.

Fume and Gases from Welding
CAD and 3D design allow more complex products to be designed and manufactured with much more accuracy. Combined with CNC cutting, its possible to design and operate raw materials so that there is less minimal grinding and filling when parts are joined together later in the production process. More simple solutions include cold jointing techniques. Adhesives technologies have also progressed in recent years, meaning there are many more sustainable ways of doing these things.

Thinner Gauge Material?
Could these jobs be redesigned to use thinner gauge material? This would generally need fewer weld passes and lower power requirements on the welding sets. Less power needed on a job would evidently equal to less fume being generated. This is a great step for the welding industry, providing welders with less risk of cancer.
This leads us on to our next point – could the manufacturing sequence be modified so there is less hot work? There are many alternatives to reduce the amount of fume being generated. Could raw materials be bought-in with edge profiles already cut? The raw material may cost a little more but buying already cut materials means less risk as well as faster production.

Identifying the Techniques which Generate the most Fume
While the changes in legislation includes all welding techniques, it may be useful to know which carry the highest risks. Starting with the lowest fume generating techniques, descending to the highest fume generating techniques:
• Submerged arc
• Resistance welding
• Laser cutting
• TIG
• Plasma cutting
• MIG
• Flame cutting
• MAG
• MMA
• Flux core
• Arc gouging

Are your Welders using the optimum set up?
Excessive currents and long duty cycles is where excess fume is generated, whilst affecting weld quality. By optimising your shielding gas will result in the best production and lowest fume emissions. All major welding gas supplies produce shielding gases which allow welders to lay welds down much faster. Its also very important that you minimise the amount of work carried out in confined spaces where the welder is directly breathing in the fumes.

WIRS have a page dedicated to HSE legislation and fume extraction products. Here you can find many welding products which also help reduce any fumes generated in the process:
https://wirs.co.uk/fume-extraction-products

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