The world has shifted to more of a health and safety focus—the result of court cases and research. A large number of Australian and New Zealand companies are now completely changing their stance on welders’ PPE. The 2017 reclassification of welding fume as carcinogenic prompted many to rethink and challenge what was historically considered ‘normal’. The 2019 statistical analysis concluding that welders have a ‘43% increased risk of lung cancer’1 regardless of the type of steel welded, the welding process or time period is of serious public health relevance and should promote change to better protect welders in Australia, New Zealand and around the world.
However, are you trying to share this information and keep hitting a brick wall? Are your attempts to raise awareness or attempts to introduce control measures being shut-down? If you answered yes, you have come to the right place to find key statistics and resources that will arm you with the information you need.
Key Welding Fume Facts
1. The International Agency for The Research on Cancer (IARC) classified welding fume as ‘carcinogenic to humans’.
2. Welders present, on average, a 43% increased risk of lung cancer when compared with those who have never welded or been exposed to welding fume1.
3. If the employer or welders have any doubt that an exposure standard is being exceeded, air monitoring will be necessary2.
4. Exposure standards should not be considered as representing an acceptable level of exposure to workers. They establish a statutory maximum upper limit3.
5. The employer must provide PPE to workers2.
6. Welders should be involved in the selection of suitable PPE2.
7. Powered air respirators are rated to provide 5 times the level of protection of a properly fitted disposable or reusable respirator.
8. Welders must be provided with information, training and instruction in the proper use, wearing and care & maintenance of PPE2.
For more information on the points above please download our 2020 Welding Fume Update - a closer look at the current state of play regarding welding fume in Australia and New Zealand.
Where to from here?
For a summary of this information in a professional presentation format please contact AWS. This information can be used to raise welding safety awareness in your business regardless of whether you are a welder, safety professional or employer of welders.
For further information on the dangers of welding fume and a strategic approach that can help to reduce exposure please visit and explore our resources on this subject – https://www.awsi.com.au/welding-fume-and-welders-respiratory-protection.
If you’d like more information on selecting suitable respiratory protection for your specific welding application or would like to arrange training and instruction on the proper use, wearing, care and maintenance of your welding PPE, please get in touch with AWS.
1. Honaryar MK, Lunn RM, Luce D, et al. Occup Environ Med, Welding Fume and lung cancer: a meta-analysis of case-control and cohort studies, April 2019
2. Welding processes code of practice, Safe Work Australia, May 2018
3. Guidance on the interpretation of workplace exposure standards for airborne contaminants, Safe Work Australia, April 2013