This is the first of two toolbox talks to raise awareness of the health risks from welding and some of the controls to manage them.
This talk can be delivered in the workplace as part of a team meeting, training session or induction. It could be led by a health and safety representative, supervisor or manager.
Health effects from welding
- Welding produces toxic fumes and gases.
- Some welding processes are more hazardous than others.
- Some welding fumes and gases make you sick straight away. Others gradually damage your lungs over a period of years.
- Welding also produces ultraviolet and infrared radiation that can cause eye damage. It can also burn your skin (similar to sunburn), long-term exposure can increase your risk of skin cancer.
Short-term health effects
- Acute bronchitis is a condition where the tubes that carry air to the lungs are inflamed and irritated.
- Occupational asthma is associated with exposure to welding fumes.
- Gases and particles in welding fumes can cause irritation of the airways such as dryness of the throat, tickling, coughing or a tight chest. The effects tend to be short term.
- Metal fume fever has symptoms similar to the flu, it is linked to welding and hot work on galvanised metals.
Long-term health effects
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) causes permanent lung damage and will affect your quality of life for many years.
- Welding fume has been classified as a known human carcinogen
- Pneumoconiosis is scarring of the lungs and inflammation. Symptoms include a dry cough and shortness of breath.
- Health monitoring checks that your health is not being affected by your work. Lung function tests are used to detect lung disease.
- A lung function test is performed by a competent person for example an occupational health nurse.
- Like other health information the results of health monitoring are kept confidential