This is the second of two toolbox talks on health and safety for welding. It covers local exhaust ventilation and respiratory protective equipment which are controls that can be used to protect workers health.
This talk can be delivered in the workplace as part of a team meeting, training session or induction. It could be led by a health and safety representative, supervisor or manager.
Welding and health
Recap from toolbox talk one: How can welding fumes harm our health?
Prompt: welding fumes can damage your health in the short and long term. Exposure can cause: cancer, asthma, irritation of the airways, bronchitis etc
Use the right welding set up
- Avoid excessive current and long welding cycles as they generate more fume.
- Optimise shielding gas to reduce the fume.
- Avoid working in confined spaces or poorly ventilated areas.
- Choose a good weld position, avoid crouching.
- Use turntables or other devices to move the work piece to keep the fume away from your face.
- Use electrodes that create less fume.
- Remove coatings such as rust treatments, paints, and solvent residue before welding.
Using local exhaust ventilation (LEV)
- LEV is an effective control that sucks the fume away at its source.
- The hood should be positioned as close as possible to the source, ideally less than one hood length away – don’t stand between the hood and the fume.
- Portable high flow fume extractors can help remove fume when welding in tight corners and the reduced size still allows you to see what you’re doing.
- Check LEV for faults, it is only effective when well maintained.
- Less hazardous welding can be done outside or in a well-ventilated area.
See the Welding and local exhaust ventilation fact sheet for more information.
Using respiratory protection
- Check safe operating procedures to see what RPE and PPE (personal protective equipment) you need for the task.
- Some types of RPE require a tight seal around your face to be effective.
- Have your employer or PCBU arrange for a fit test when you are provided with new close-fitting RPE, and at least annually.
- Complete the positive pressure seal-check and the negative pressure fit check to be sure there is a good seal before each use. Perform a visual check to ensure the RPE is clean and in good condition.
- Be clean shaven to get a proper seal for close-fitting RPE, otherwise you will need to wear a powered air purifying respirator.
See the Respiratory protective equipment – advice for workers quick guide for more information.
Looking after your RPE
- Wash and dry rubber and silicone respirators after using. Do not wash the cartridge and be careful not to damage the valves.
- Look after your respirator by storing it in a sealed container.
- Store your RPE in a clean dry place, away from dust, oil and sunlight.
- RPE should be stored so that it does not get crushed.
- Check it regularly for signs of damage.