Are You Aware that the Workplace Exposure Standard (WES) for Welding Fume has Changed?
The workplace exposure standard for welding fume has been reduced from 5 mg/m3 to 1 mg/m3
1st February 2024
WES for Welding Fume: What has Changed?
After extensive research and analysis, WES Ministers have agreed to reduce the workplace exposure standard for welding fume (not otherwise classified) from 5 mg/m3 to 1 mg/m3.
This means that all Persons Conducting Business or Undertaking (PCBUs) will need to re-assess their existing welding fume control measures to in order to remain compliant.
Here are some key points to remember:
Identify all welding activities and the substances that are being used.
Assess the risk of welding fume exposure – What processes are being used? Who is in the work area? How long are they working? What concentrations of fume are being produced?
Review existing control measures – Do you have suitable extractors? Does the extractor have high enough airflow? Does the extractor have suitable filters? Does the extractor have a suitable sized capture hood? Do you have supplementary ventilation to dilute any residual fume not captured by the extractor? What PPE/ RPE is being used?
Talk to your workers - Ensure that they; understand the health risks, are aware of any changes to control measures, and have received relevant training.
Finally, it is important to emphasize that 1mg/3 does not represent an ‘acceptable’ level of exposure, it is the ‘maximum’ level of exposure, therefore ideally exposure would be below this threshold.