If you work in manufacturing, you’ll likely have recently received a letter from The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) preparing you for an inspection focussing on fabricated metals. This is an extension to last year’s clampdown, meaning more manufacturing businesses are likely to be visited.
If you haven’t received a letter yet – then you might just have seen this post at the right time!
Either way, these are the things you need to know.
It applies to two specific areas
Between May and September 2021, HSE inspectors will visit manufacturing businesses with a focus on the risks from both welding fumes and metalworking fluids.
Improper employee protection in both of these areas can lead to skin conditions like dermatitis, lung diseases like COPD and metal fume fever, and even workplace-caused cancer. So if you haven’t recently reviewed the health and safety risks in your workplaces pertaining to these areas, now is the time to do so.
There are several things to consider, but thankfully also plenty resources to help you do so effectively.
Protecting against welding fumes
Metal fumes are the visible vapour clouds given off when metals are heated in metalworking spaces during processes like soldering and blow-torching.
You can control and mitigate health risks to your employees from welding fumes in a number of ways:
- Use alternative cold joining techniques
- Weld in a way that produces less fume
- Fit compliant local exhaust ventilation (LEV)
- Use personal protective equipment (PPE) and respiratory protective equipment (RPE)
- Maintain control measures and good levels of ventilation
- Ensure your welders know the risks and are trained to use controls effectively
To learn more about the dangers of metal and dust fumes, read our blog on that very subject.
For official HSE guidance on protecting your workers from metal fumes, visit this page on the HSE website.
Protecting against metalworking fluids
Metalworking fluids are used to cool and lubricate metals during metalworking and also to carry away the debris produced by those processes.
Touching or swallowing metalworking fluids, or breathing in the vapours given off by them, can lead to significant health issues for your workforce.
HSE provides a number of guidelines here to help your employees work safely with metalworking fluids.
Among them is the need for relevant RPE and PPE, alongside thorough training for employees on the dangers and best practices that can help them avoid danger.
Another important criteria is the need for adequate and COSHH-compliant ventilation.
Our wide range of oil mist extractors are designed especially to collect the mist given off by oils used in metalworking.
They’re compact, light and designed to be directly mounted onto the machine tools, where they draw potentially harmful mist into the unit and away from the metalworker’s breathing zone.
For more on how you can make your business COSHH compliant for metalworking fluids, visit this page on the HSE website.
Is your metalworking business ready for inspection?
Not sure your extraction and ventilation products meet COSHH standards? Don’t worry – we can help. Drop us a message now, or call us on 01489 899070.