What Can You Do As A Welder If You Feel Under Protected From Welding Fume At Work?

Article By: Team AWS

Suitable Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

As a welder you should aim to educate yourself on the risks, understand the appropriate PPE available and look to involve yourself in the consultation process and ultimate selection of suitable PPE at your workplace.

It may surprise you to learn that under both the Australian Work, Health and Safety Laws and the New Zealand Health and Safety at Work Regulations, a person who directs the carrying out of work (eg. employer) at a workplace must provide PPE to workers carrying out work unless the personal protective equipment has been provided by another person conducting a business or undertaking, like a labour hire company.

Air Monitoring

The “Welding Code of Practice” also stipulates that employers ‘must ensure that air monitoring is carried out to determine the airborne concentration of a substance or mixture at the workplace to which an exposure standard applies if:

- they are not certain on reasonable grounds whether or not the airborne concentration of the substance or mixture at the workplace exceeds the relevant exposure standard, or

- monitoring is necessary to determine whether there is a risk to health’1

Therefore, as a welder, if you are not certain on reasonable grounds whether the airborne concentration of the substance within your welding plume exceeds the relevant exposure standard or you feel there may be a risk to health you should raise your concern with your employer.

Welders have a say!

As someone who is directly affected by welding hazards, welders are entitled to take part in the consultation process and selection of suitable PPE. After all, personal preferences are the key to user acceptance so it’s important that you feel comfortable and protected.

The key is to remember as a welder is that the risk is real but keeping yourself safe is simple. There is a risk associated with scuba diving and you wouldn’t dream of doing it without the proper safety equipment. The same is true with welding. If the proper precautions are taken and followed, welding can be a safe occupation. When selecting suitable PPE, the employer, where reasonable, should consult with the welders. A welder’s knowledge, experience and personal preferences improve the overall decision-making process.

So what's next?

If you have read this article and want to know where to go next, we have listed a few resources that will help you educate yourself on the risks and understand the different forms of welding respirators available to you:

2020 Welding Fume Update

View the New Speedglas G5-01 Heavy-Duty Welding Helmet

For help on selecting suitable respiratory protection for your specific welding application or to book a welding fume talk at your workplace, please get in touch with AWS using the link below:

Contact AWS

1)      Welding processes code of practice, Safe Work Australia, May 2018

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