Jul 23, 2023
Working together to improve welder safety outcomes nationally
Industry, government and statutory bodies are working together to ensure that appropriate strategies are in place to reduce welder exposure to fumes and prevent long-term health effects. Author: Geoff
Industry, government and statutory bodies are working together to ensure that appropriate strategies are in place to reduce welder exposure to fumes and prevent long-term health effects.
Author: Geoff Crittenden – CEO, Weld Australia
Established by Weld Australia in early 2019, the Welding Safety Council provides a forum for industry and legislative safety authorities to discuss issues and work collaboratively to identify solutions.
By drawing together key government stakeholders, statutory bodies and industry into a single independent body focused on eradicating welding-related injury, the Australian welding industry continues to take a significant steps forward in protecting both the general public and welders.
Recent media coverage has raised the issue of lowering the limit for exposure to welding fumes. In recent years, the welding industry has become increasingly aware of the hazards posed by metal fume produced during the welding process.
This fume, comprised of microscopic particles of hot metal and gases, poses serious risks when inhaled by welders. In early 2017, the International Agency for Research on Cancer classed welding fumes as ‘Carcinogenic to Humans’.
However, when appropriate precautions are adhered to, risk of exposure is greatly minimised. Welding can and should be considered a safe occupation; when proper precautions are taken, welders have no cause to fear accident or injury. But, when safety isn’t taken seriously in the workplace, the risk of a severe incident becomes a real concern.
It is vital that appropriate strategies are in place to reduce welder exposure to fumes and prevent the long-term healtheffects that can result from exposure.
All welders should receive training on methods to mitigate the effects of metal fume, including positioning themselves to reduce exposure and investigating less toxic alternatives where possible.
Education is the key to ensuring a safe and productive working environment for everyone. Employers need to invest in thorough and up-to-date training for all their employees to ensure that they understand the risks associated with welding, the mitigation strategies they can use, and the equipment available to prevent accident and injury.
As the Responsible International Institute of Welding (IIW) representative in Australia, Weld Australia is at the forefront of global welder safety best practice. We regularly participate in international research and development programs designed to improve welding fume safety practices.
Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) systems capture and extract welding fume at the source and are a proven way of reducing exposure. All workplaces should have fit-for-purpose LEV systems installed and regularly maintained.
Powered air purifying respirators (PAPR) are also a proven method to minimise the welder’s exposure to welding fume in conformance with WHS regulations.
In collaboration with industry, Weld Australia has implemented a range of other initiatives to help improve welder safety.Weld Australia has published a wide range of welding safety resources, which are available to the public completely free of charge.
This Guide includes all the information required to help protect workers from the hazards associated with welding fumes.
This Technical Note gives guidance on health and safety practices in welding, cutting and allied processes such as brazing, soldering, pre- and post-weld material treatments, and metal spraying, for the prevention of injury, ill health and discomfort, as well as damage to property, equipment and environment by fire, and explosion.
Various chapters deal with:
Although electric arc welding can be performed perfectly safely, there are circumstances when there is a substantial risk of electric shock. Precautions against this risk include use of properly maintained equipment, correct protective equipment and sound work practices.
With reference to Industry best practice, Technical Note 22 addresses how to safeguard a person against electric shock, reviewing elements such as: equipment, the human body, the workplace Australian Standards.
Weld Australia is currently developing two comprehensive online welder safety training courses. One course is tailored for welders, while the other is aimed at welding engineers and supervisors.
These courses cover a raft of activities across a range of welding processes, from electric arc welding and flame cutting, through to topics like welding fume safety, and welding in confined spaces, at heights, or in hot and humid conditions. These courses will be completed towards the end of this year and made freely available via the Weld Australia website.
The Weld Australia website was recently reconfigured to enable the issue of Safety Alerts. These Alerts will draw attention to welding safety incidents, including the known causes of the incident and what steps can be taken to help prevent similar incidents occurring.
Education is the key to ensuring that anyone who welds is safe. Employers, professional welders and DIY enthusiasts alike must invest in thorough and up- to-date training to ensure an in-depth understanding of the risks associated with welding, the mitigation strategies that can be used, and the equipment available to prevent accident and injury.
In 2023, Weld Australia’s goal is to help ensure every welder makes it home safely at the end of every day.
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Bayswater, VICIndustry, government and statutory bodies are working together to ensure that appropriate strategies are in place to reduce welder exposure to fumes and prevent long-term health effects.Author: Geoff Crittenden – CEO, Weld AustraliaInitiatives to improve welder safetyFume minimisation guidelines: welding, cutting, brazing and solderingTechnical Note 7: Health and safety in weldingTechnical Note 22: Welding electrical safety