An Australian-first judgment linking a Melbourne man's deadly lung tumour to toxic welding fumes has opened the door to new compensation claims by former welders battling cancer.
Anh Tran, a 54-year-old ex-smoker whose right lung has been surgically removed, won WorkCover compensation last week after a court ruled that working as a welder had raised his risk of contracting lung cancer.
The Victorian County Court ruled in favour of Mr Tran in light of testimony from medical experts that former welders were 44 per cent more likely to contract lung cancer compared to people who have never worked in the field.
The court heard welders were 23 per cent more likely to develop Mr Tran's particular type of lung cancer - adenocarcinoma.
It is the first time in Australia that compensation has been awarded due to a link between lung cancer and welding fumes, which are formed when a metal is heated above boiling point and its vapours condense into fine particles. Welding fumes have previously been linked to bronchitis, asthma and welder's lung - a condition where iron particles are deposited in the lungs.
Law firm Maurice Blackburn said the ruling was significant for scores of present and former welders in providing legal precedence accepting the elevated risk of lung cancer in their line of work.
The Victorian WorkCover Authority and the federal regulator, Safe Work Australia, said they were not aware of any other cases where welders had received workers' compensation for lung cancer.
Courtesy of theage.com.au, Date August 16, 2014
This case underlines the need for welders and businesses that employ welders to understand the health risks associated with welding fume. Every welder should wear some form of respiratory protection. Below are some of the main options available to welders:
Disposable Respiratory Protection:
Disposable respirators are perfect for use under a welding helmet. They provide lightweight and comfortable respiratory protection. Disposable respirators can provide a Required Minimum Protection Factor (RMPF) of 10. Which simply means that, with the correct fit, the air you breath will be at least ten times cleaner than the air you’d otherwise be breathing*.
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Reusable Respiratory Protection:
Reusable respirators only fit under some welding helmets (eg. 3M™ Speedglas™ Welding Helmet Series 9100). They can provide protection against gases, vapours and particulates. Reusable respirators can provide a Required Minimum Protection Factor (RMPF) of 10. Which simply means, with the correct fit, the air you breath will be at least ten times cleaner than the air you’d otherwise be breathing*.
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Powered Air Respiratory protection:
With its smart, compact design, the award-winning Adflo Powered Air Respirator is specially designed to meet your welding needs when used with the 3M™ Speedglas™ Welding Helmet 9100 FX Air and 3M™ Speedglas™ Welding Helmet 9100 MP Air. Its continuous airflow (170 or 200 litres per minute) provides filtered air that takes much of the heat and sweat out of welding. The powered air respirator systems mentioned above have a RMPF of 50*.
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Supplied Air Respiratory Protection:
The Versaflo™ Supplied Air Regulator V-500E is a lightweight, belt mounted regulator that allows you to adjust the airflow from 170 litres per minute to 305 litres per minute. The high, constant flow rate makes the V-500E regulator ideal for hot and strenuous welding conditions The supplied air respirator systems below have a RMPF of 100+*.
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*Please note that this is only a general guide of respiratory protection that is available to welders. There may be a need to further investigate air quality to assess type and level of contamination. It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure correct product selection for each application. Final determination of product applicability must be made by an appropriately qualified person. Do not use any of the products featured for respiratory protection against unknown atmospheric contaminants or when concentrations are immediately dangerous to life or health (IDLH) or in atmospheres containing less than 19.5% oxygen.