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Get Ahead of the Inspectors – Five Top Tips for Welding Fume Extraction Compliance

With lockdown restrictions easing, health and safety inspections are now resuming again after postponement during 2020.

Whether your servicing and LEV certification wasn’t renewed last year, or you didn’t get round to upgrading your welding fume extraction equipment, here are our five top tips for ensuring you are compliant when the health and safety inspector comes knocking…

  1. Always use good ventilation and RPE (respiratory protective equipment), including work outdoors.
    For light and/or sporadic welding with MIG,MAG,FCA,MMA and gas welding processes, a combination of good ventilation and RPE is the “best practise” approach to take. Even when outside RPE should be used by the welder to avoid direct inhalation of fumes.
  2. Use an LEV system such as a mobile filter where practicable.
    A common sense approach should be taken here, put yourself in the shoes of the inspector – if you could/should be using an LEV system (where conditions/location allow), are you? It is always better to be safe than sorry! You will also need to ensure the unit has the correct type of filter for your work, special filters are required for grinding jobs for example and HEPA filters can also be required for some applications.
  3. For regular and/or high intensity welding with MIG/MAG/FCA/MMA and gas, LEV is always required and supplementary RPE should also be considered for personnel in the working area.
    Any situation that could be deemed as “high risk” – i.e production workshop environments and frequent welding, an LEV system will be required. This could be in the shape of mobile filters for welding bays, or a fixed system with ducting to the main filter depending on usage and applications. It is also advisable that personnel working in the vicinity of the welding area should wear RPE.
  4. Ensure filters on LEV systems are checked regularly and replaced where necessary.
    It may seem obvious but routine things like keeping filters working efficiently can easily be one of those jobs that is forgotten or put aside for something else. Ensure operators are aware of how to check the filters and keep a small supply in stock to avoid waiting for replacements. Also keep a copy of the manual close by or make everyone aware where they are kept if required.
  5. It is compulsory to keep up with annual servicing and COSHH testing of fume extraction equipment for validation of LEV certification requirements.
    Ensure you set out a yearly plan with your maintenance team and make sure this is followed through. If your LEV certificates are not valid, you will have failed the inspection and in some circumstances your inspector may shut down production until the issue is rectified. Make life easy for yourself and keep to a regular schedule!
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