Occupational Hygiene Blog

Mild Steel Welding Fumes Can Cause Lung Cancer & Potentially Kidney Cancer - HSE bulletin

Updated: Nov 15, 2020


You’re probably already aware that certain welding fumes can cause cancer but if you’re a mild steel welder, there’s some changes you need to be aware of.

Mild steel is used to create many everyday objects including car and other vehicle chassis, motorcycle frames and some kitchen utensils.

Research states that exposure to all welding fumes, including mild steel welding fume, can cause lung cancer and potentially kidney cancer. This means that if you carry out any type of welding activity as part of your work, you need to understand the risks to protect your workers and your own health.

The expected controls for exposure to fume from mild steel welding are now the same as they are for stainless steel welding, so it’s important that you talk to your colleagues and your employer about the protection measures that need to be in place. To do this you’ll need to carry out a full risk assessment before you start working. Use the Breathe Freely in Manufacturing Welding Fume Control Selector Tool to help you identify the required controls.

Exposure to welding fume can be harmful so if you are visited by an HSE inspector they will expect you to be able to demonstrate that you are properly protecting your workers’ health. However, it is recognised the changes might mean you need to plan for buying and implementing equipment if you don’t already have it in place. If you have already ordered new LEV equipment but are waiting for it to be installed, then make sure you have an interim plan in place to minimise exposure, such as the provision of suitable RPE.

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