Over 75,000 workers exposed to welding fumes, and with approximately 152 deaths per year from fume-related lung cancer according to the HSE website. Having an effective fume control system on site is essential for the safety of your workers and to remain compliant with COSHH regulations. Most people use the term “fume” very broadly, but to properly understand and control this hazard, we need to know exactly what we are dealing with.
There are a range of hazardous fume types, which require specific control measures. Fume is made up of very fine solid particles. Usually, it is created by heating a material and causing chemical reactions such as oxidisation and thermal breakdown until it evaporates. As this cools, it becomes vapour and, then, very small spherical particles. These particles can then be filtered using a suitable HEPA filter. People often talk about paint and adhesive fumes, but these are actually gases and will pass straight through a particulate filter. To control these, we may be able to use a catalyst or absorb them using activated carbon filtration. The final common “fume” is diesel exhaust; a complex mix of gases and carbon (soot) which requires a combination of particulate and catalysts to control it.
Our best practice guide breaks down the fume control process into easy to follow stages, providing you with comprehensive advice on how to effectively and proactively assess your site environment before and during works.
For example, when calculating your fume control requirements, things to consider may include;
- Is it possible to do it another way which will reduce or eliminate the fume?
- Can you cut using cold methods like reciprocating saws?
- Can you bolt or rivet instead of welding?
- Can you have materials prefabricated off-site?
- Can you capture some, or all, of the fume at source by using on-tool extraction etc.?
- Is there anything that you need to protect?
- What is happening around your work area?
- How well sealed is the area?
- Can you reduce the size of your work area?
- Where can you vent air to?
Alongside this advice, our fume control experts also guide you through the safe setting up, maintaining and dismantling of your fume control system. With these detailed and straightforward instructions, you will be able to use and care for your system with confidence, allowing you to provide a fume control system that meets the necessary requirements and keeps your workers safe.
Best Practice Guide to Effective Fume Control