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Weld Fume COSHH Assessment

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Weld Fume COSHH Assessment

Post by toecutter » Thu Sep 27, 2018 11:48 am

Hi all

Looking for some pointers. I've been tasked with writing a COSHH Assessment for welding fumes in our fabrication shop, and in 2 days of trying to find out exactly what fumes are created by all the different base metals, fillers, process gases etc, all I've been able to ascertain is that it depends. There just seems to be too many variables for me to get a handle on it. I've had a look at the MSDS for some of the metals, only to find the fumes also vary depending on the type of welding. Am I better off just finding a worst case scenario, for example Chromium, and writing almost a generic fume assessment based on that? Has anyone else got one I could maybe have a look at to get some sort of direction?

Any help greatly appreciated!


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Re: Weld Fume COSHH Assessment

Post by quality_somerset » Fri Sep 28, 2018 4:25 pm

Hi Toecutter

Sorry it's a bit long but it should give you a good starting point.

The following is from the welding fume environmental report that my company had commissioned:

“Welding Fume” is the term applied to a complex mixture of airborne particles generated during
welding, brazing, gas cutting and similar thermal processes used to join, cut, surface or remove
materials. The composition, quantity and content of exposure to welding fume will depend upon

- process used;
- materials being welded;
- presence of any coatings on the material being welded e.g., paint, degreasing fluid;
- composition of the consumables;
- nature of the flux coating or core of the consumables;
- welding current;
- welding voltage;
- welding position and the nature of the space where the welding is undertaken.

As well as fume particulate matter there may also be exposure to certain gases, depending upon
the welding process used.

Common constituents of welding fume and gases, and their potential health effects include:

Iron Oxide: this is the main particulate present in most forms of welding fume and when inhaled
in significant quantities can lead to a condition known as siderosis. Siderosis is identified by
changes in chest x-rays due to the deposition of iron oxides in the lungs, and is considered to be a
benign condition which does not progress to fibrosis.

Copper Oxide: this is given off by many welding processes and the health effects consist of
irritation of the upper respiratory tract, a metallic taste and, in extreme cases, metal fume fever.

Manganese: this is a common component in welding electrodes. Ingestion, inhalation and skin or
eye contact may cause irritation. Inhalation of significant concentrations of dust or fume may
cause headaches, nausea, chills, muscular pain and weakness; long term excessive exposure may
affect the central nervous system. Some research workers have also reported a high incidence of
pneumonia in workers exposed to the dust and fume of some manganese components.

Chromium: this is used in protective paint for its corrosion resisting properties and is also present
in stainless steel and consumables. Certain hexavalent (Cr VI) chromium compounds are
suspected of being carcinogenic when inhaled.

Nickel: nickel is used in the production of corrosion-resistant alloys with iron and other metals.
Some compounds of nickel are suspected of being carcinogenic when inhaled. Cases of asthma
and pulmonary fibrosis have been reported in workers exposed to nickel dusts and fumes. Nickel
and some of its salts are known sensitizers.

Nitrogen Dioxide: this is formed by the action of the arc on the air and can be mildly irritating to
the eyes and upper respiratory tract. There are indications from some research that individuals
with chronic bronchitis can have their condition aggravated by nitrogen dioxide.

Carbon Monoxide: this is formed by the incomplete combustion of carbonaceous materials and
normally comes from the burning off of protective coatings and debris on the electrode or metal
being welded. It acts on the body as a chemical asphyxiant and prolonged exposure to high levels
can cause unconsciousness, although smokers are able to withstand higher levels than non

Ozone: this is formed by the action of the ultra-violet light on the air and can be intensely
irritating to the eyes and upper respiratory tract even at low concentrations.

You will then need to see whether any whether any of the above constituents have an ascribed WEL. This will depend on what type of welding you are carrying out, shielding gas used, the metal being welded and the type of welding electrode. Where you weld will also need to be considered.

My welders have a battery powered filter (9100 fx adflo system), bay extraction, roof extraction and we also do yearly lung function tests to monitor and detect any lung problems.

Hope this helps a bit, sorry it's a bit long.



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Re: Weld Fume COSHH Assessment

Post by toecutter » Mon Oct 01, 2018 8:34 am

That's great, QS, thanks for the info. Definitely gives me more of an idea of what's present in the fumes so I have a bit more direction for the assessment.

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