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Welding fume and all things LEV and RPE

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RJP
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Welding fume and all things LEV and RPE

Post by RJP » Thu Aug 15, 2019 1:13 pm

Hi All,

To cut a long story short when the safety alert for welding fume came out in Feb this year I went about trying to find the best way to protect our employees and convince my MD that we have to look into LEV for our welders and RPE for the guys who work off site.
So I had a few companies in and we have now settled for Lev for each welding bench as our guys weld and/or fabricate 6+ hours per day.
We also have new extraction for other areas so we are progressing well.
However we have one department of 8 employees where LEV is not practicable as it would interfere with the nature of the work and yes, I know this sounds far fetched but even the extraction companies couldn't come up with a viable solution?
So my resolution to this is to supply that department with Air Fed RPE, I know PPE is the last resort but it is the only practicable solution for us.

I am about to get the sign off for the RPE from the MD but before I spend anymore money, believe me he has parted with a lot since I've been with the business ;) I wanted to check that this solution would satisfy the HSE if they inspected, as I have extraction companies telling me that the HSE state it must be LEV?

Any advice would be great.

Thanks
Ros :)

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Re: Welding fume and all things LEV and RPE

Post by bernicarey » Thu Aug 15, 2019 2:25 pm

I'll just ask why you have ruled out 'on-tool' extraction?

That is the preferred choice of the HSE as it saves any LEV/RPE.

I currently have a similar issue with a client, where my concern is not so much protecting the Welders, they have plenty of options but others walking through the workshop throughout the day. 'Can't see it it must be safe' appears to be the thought process.
However my research shows the smallest and most dangerous particles can stay airborne for some 40 hours.
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Re: Welding fume and all things LEV and RPE

Post by RJP » Thu Aug 15, 2019 2:58 pm

Hi bernicarey,

Thank you for your answer, I appreciate you getting back to me.

I haven't ruled out on tool extraction, the only issue is that the 8 employees work on jigs, welding and fabricating for 6 plus hours per day.
The jigs are constantly moved for each job and portable extraction units would "get in our way" (i've had discussions with the lads) hence they would not be used by the lads and I want to protect them and not have them sign to say they understand they have to use the equipment provided for their health and safety and then leave it in the corner to collect dust and never to be used again.
Yes the reality is they should wear what they are provided but this is a small family business I work in and i'm trying to change a 50 year old safety culture as well as protect the guys and keep the business compliant as best I can. I will also add I am new to the engineering sector so this is all new to me too.
The workshop concerned is a large open hanger type building with good general air circulation, it's separate to the rest of the business so no one walks through the workshop and the only people in there are the 8 employees who work in the department, plus the odd visitor from other departments who stay no longer than a few minutes to pick a piece of work up.
This is why I thought the air fed RPE was a good solution as the lads have tried it and said that they are happy to wear it all day......
Do you think this is going to cause me problems if they turn up to inspect??

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Re: Welding fume and all things LEV and RPE

Post by bernicarey » Thu Aug 15, 2019 3:39 pm

It really depend on the type of work and the position of the welding. There's a good little leaflet here from BOHS that you may or may not have seen: http://www.breathefreely.org.uk/WST/On- ... action.pdf
It details the advantages as well as the limitations.

End of the day, HSE will not be happy to find that the welders are protected by air fed masks but that others may be subject to particles.
While you've said
The workshop concerned is a large open hanger type building with good general air circulation, it's separate to the rest of the business so no one walks through the workshop and the only people in there are the 8 employees who work in the department, plus the odd visitor from other departments who stay no longer than a few minutes to pick a piece of work up.
which sound good, I'm thinking what about when they get to the end of the day?
What happens when they sweep up?
Do they keep the air fed masks on until the leave the workshop.... .scratch
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Re: Welding fume and all things LEV and RPE

Post by kevlarion » Mon Aug 19, 2019 9:50 am

There is always an LEV solution to at least reduce the airborn concentration of fume, and if you can make it independant of the welders having to do something then so much the better.
If the welders are protected by their masks then that is great, must be a dark and dirty workshop if welding fume just settles and never get's cleaned up.

On torch extraction can be used, no need to set up extractors just put the extractor unit on the same trolley as the welding plant and whenever they weld, they extract. You could also use air scrubbers which are basically a big fan with a filter pulling the air in the room through the filter to remove the particulates in the fume.

If I was an HSE inspector (I'm not) I would be asking some very awkward questions if there was no LEV in place in a welding shop. I would also be asking about welding flash protection (I've never met a welder who didn't also need to lift his mask to set up the pieces to be welded, grind down the weld, chip off swarf etc) from others welding nearby, air quality measurements and fire prevention (including fixed wiring and PAT testing). If I was a quality manager I'd be asking about calibration, servicing and verification of welding plant as well as qualification of welders.

Hope that helps
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Re: Welding fume and all things LEV and RPE

Post by Blackstone » Wed Aug 21, 2019 9:07 am

We are currently having this discussion in our workshop.

We have high level extraction and portable smog hogs already.

The high level extraction pulls in the air and filters while the smog hogs can be positioned directly where the fume is being created by the welder.

I plan to carry out air monitoring to see how effective this is while discussing welder RPE (air fed or battery fed).

Finding it quite tricky to get on top of!

Glen
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Re: Welding fume and all things LEV and RPE

Post by kevlarion » Fri Aug 23, 2019 11:21 am

If it's any help, I use 3M 9100 airflow masks, and they seem to work well and survive the punishment... expensive though.
If it isn't broken, that doesn't mean you can't improve it. (Do three negatives make a positive ?)

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