This is the second of two toolbox talks on health and safety for welding. It covers local exhaust ventilation and respiratory protective equipment which are controls that can be used to protect workers health.

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.

Attendance record

Welding and health

Recap from toolbox talk one: How can welding fumes harm our health?

Prompt: welding fumes can damage your health in the short and long term. Exposure can cause: asthma, irritation of the airways, bronchitis, etc.

Use the right welding set up

[Image] Man sitting at workstation with large exhaust hood located in front of him
Extracted workbench
  • Avoid excessive current and long welding cycles as they generate more fume.
  • Optimise shielding gas to reduce the fume.
  • Avoid working in confined spaces or poorly ventilated areas.
  • Choose a good weld position, avoid crouching.
  • Use turntables or other devices to move the work piece to keep the fume away from your face.
  • Use electrodes that create less fume.
  • Remove coatings such as rust treatments, paints, and solvent residue before welding.

Using local exhaust ventilation (LEV)

[Image] Man standing at workstation with exhaust hood located just above his hands
Capturing hood
  • LEV is an effective control that sucks the fume away at its source.
  • The hood should be positioned as close as possible to the source, ideally less than one hood length away – don’t stand between the hood and the fume.
  • Portable high flow fume extractors can help remove fume when welding in tight corners and the reduced size still allows you to see what you’re doing.
  • Check LEV for faults, it is only effective when well maintained.
  • Less hazardous welding can be done outside or in a well-ventilated area.

See the Welding and Local Exhaust Ventilation fact sheet for more information.

Respiratory protective equipment (RPE)

[Image] Man checking respirator pressure by pressing it towards his mouth and nose with one palm for positive fit and with both palms over filters for negative fit
Left: Positive pressure fit check - Right: Negative pressure fit check
  • Check safe operating procedures to see what RPE and PPE (personal protective equipment) you need for the task.
  • Have your employer or PCBU arrange for a fit test when you are provided with new close-fitting RPE, and at least annually.
  • Some types of RPE require a tight seal around your face to be effective.
  • Complete the positive pressure fit check and the negative pressure fit check to be sure there is a good seal before each use. Perform a visual check to ensure the RPE is clean and in good condition.
  • Be clean shaven to get a proper seal for close-fitting RPE, otherwise you will need to wear a powered air purifying respirator.

See the Respiratory Protective Equipment – Advice for Employees fact sheet for more information.

Looking after your RPE

[Image] Man wearing respirator over his mouth and nose with strap passing around his head
Re-usable half-face respirator
  • Wash and dry rubber and silicone respirators after using. Do not wash the cartridge and be careful not to damage the valves.
  • Look after your respirator by storing it in a sealed container.
  • Store your RPE in a clean dry place, away from dust, oil and sunlight. RPE should be stored so that it doesn’t get crushed.
  • Check it regularly for signs of damage.

Download fact sheet

Toolbox talk 2: welding work keeping safe (PDF 393 KB)