Workplace Report (June 2021)

Health & safety - HSE Monitor

World Asthma Day marked by fumes focus

The HSE marked World Asthma Day on 4 May by announcing an inspection focus on fabricated metal businesses to check compliance with its guidance on managing the respiratory risks of welding fumes and metalworking fluids. This requires employers to complete risk assessments, ensure workers are trained, reduce exposure using local exhaust ventilation, and provide suitable respiratory protective equipment where required.

Last year 12,000 people died from lung diseases estimated to be linked to past exposure, the HSE said. It also pointed to scientific evidence that exposure to welding fumes can cause lung cancer and exposure to metal working fluids can cause a range of lung diseases, including occupational asthma and occupational hypersensitivity pneumonitis. These are debilitating diseases with a life-changing impact.

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