Respiratory Problems Linked with Welding Fumes

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Welding Fumes
LLB (Hons) & LPC Stacy Pimlott
Legally reviewed by: LLB (Hons) & LPC Stacy Pimlott In: Industrial Disease

How can welding cause respiratory problems?

Welding produces gasses and fine dusts that may be inhaled by those in and around the welding process. Exposure to fumes produced during welding is a common cause of respiratory problems in welders and those working around welders.

The fumes are created when various materials are being welding. This can include stainless steel, aluminium, copper and iron.

The risks associated with welding are well documented and include occupational asthma, welder’s lung and lung cancer. The International Association for Research on Cancer (IARC) conducted a study in to the link between exposure to welding fumes and lung cancer. The study concluded that all welding fumes can cause lung cancer and subsequently classified all welding fumes as Group 1 carcinogenic substances. In February 2019 the HSE issued a safety alert regarding the findings of the IARC study.

Read more in our previous article here

Welding Fumes

Are you being adequately protected?

There are various safety measures that employers must take in order to protect employees that may be exposed to welding fumes. It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure the safety of its employees by implementing these measures and ensuring they are adhered to. These include; avoiding or reducing exposure wherever possible, using local exhaust ventilation (LEV) to remove fumes at the source as well as providing adequate respiratory protective equipment (RPE) to all relevant employees.

It is the employers responsibility to not only put these measures in place but to ensure that they are in adequate working order and are suitable for the work being undertaken. Employees should also undergo regular health monitoring and be provided with information and training regarding their exposure and how to protect themselves through the correct use of RPE and safety measures.

Signs of Occupational Asthma

There are various signs that you may be suffering from respiratory problems caused by your exposure to welding fumes at work. These can vary from relatively mild to much more severe and include;

  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Tight chest

You may already have asthma that is not related to your work but find that your symptoms are getting worse since being exposed to welding fumes. This is known as aggravated or exacerbated occupational asthma.

What should you do if you think you may have Occupational Asthma?

If you think you may be suffering from occupational asthma, or any respiratory problems, caused or made worse by your workplace there are a number of things you can do.

  • Telling your employer; make your employer aware of your concerns and discuss what can be done to try and reduce your exposure.
  • Ensure you are following all safety guidelines; make sure that you use all the safety measures put in place properly. Ask for a face fit test for any RPE and be clean shaven to ensure that this fits securely and provides maximum protection.
  • Visit your GP; explain your concerns to your GP who may be able to perform simple tests to consider if a diagnosis of asthma should be made. They will then be able to arrange suitable medication and treatment plans.

Can I Claim Compensation?

You may not know that it is possible to claim compensation for respiratory illnesses caused or made worse by exposure to welding fumes in the workplace.

It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure your safety at work. If you have developed occupational asthma as a result of work or had a pre-existing respiratory illness made worse, you may be eligible to claim for compensation.

Read about how we helped a previous client in our case study here.

If you believe that this may apply to you then get in touch with our specialist solicitors today who may be able to assist you to start a claim for compensation.

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