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Changes in welding regulations announced

A change in enforcement expectations for mild steel welding fume could impact traditional sign fabricators across the UK.

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SignFab hand bends and solders its lettering at its Leicester-based sign fabrication workshop

The new regulation is targeted at all workers, employers, self-employed, contractors, and any others who undertake welding activities including mild steel in any industry.

The announcement comes following the release of new scientific evidence from the International Agency for Research on Cancer that suggests exposure to mild steel welding fume can cause lung cancer and possibly kidney cancer in humans.

Following concerns that current general ventilation does not achieve the necessary control to prevent such effects, there is a strengthening of HSE’s enforcement expectation for all welding fume, including mild steel welding, with immediate effect.

Regardless of duration, HSE will no longer accept any welding undertaken without any suitable exposure control measures in place

The Health and Safety Executive says: “Control of the cancer risk will require suitable engineering controls for all welding activities indoors e.g. Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV). Extraction will also control exposure to manganese, which is present in mild steel welding fume, which can cause neurological effects similar to Parkinson’s disease.

“Where LEV alone does not adequately control exposure, it should be supplemented by adequate and suitable respiratory protective equipment (RPE) to protect against residual fume.

“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.”

With an entire section of its Leicester-based workshop dedicated to hand welding, soldering and bending both metal and acrylic lettering, sign fabricator SignFab is just one example of the many sign companies who will be affected by the new regulation.

If you have any news, please email carys@linkpublishing.co.uk or join in with the conversation on Twitter.

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