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    What's New — Welding Safety

    Tips for Reducing Welding Fume Exposure

    Tips for Reducing Welding Fume Exposure

    A hot topic in welding recently has been the reclassification of Welding Fume as a known carcinogen, with links to cancer proven by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Did you know that inadequate respiratory protection is the 4th most frequently cited workplace violation in the United States?

    To help out, we thought we’d drop a few ideas on how you can minimise your exposure to welding fume – whether in the workshop, on site or in the man cave.

    1. Modify or substitute your welding process

    If possible, modifying or substituting your welding process or consumables for options which create less gases or fumes can help to reduce exposure to welding fumes and respirable gases. This could involve investigating consumable options for less toxic alternatives finding a welding process that produces less fume.

    The only limitation here is that substitution may not always be possible – for example when stainless steel is required for the end product (chromium).

    1. Engineering controls

    Modifying work spaces around the welder or increasing ventilation around the workshop can help reduce exposure. Local exhaust ventilation systems are useful in removing fume and gases from the breathing zone of the welder. Any air extraction system inlet should be located as close to the welding plume source as possible, which assists in removing the greatest amount of toxic gases and fume.

    A possible limitation of this control is that it can sometime be difficult to achieve due to conflicting needs such as heating/cooling or shielding gases.

    1. Work practices

    Positioning yourself safely in respect of the welding fume is another way to reduce contact with welding fume. Where possible, this may include welding downwind or making use of a natural draft coming through the workshop.

    This may not always be possible however, as space restrictions and workpieces may now allow alternative positioning of your head.

    1. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

    In addition to the first 3 steps, we recommend always having appropriate respiratory protection in place. Basic respiratory requirements for welding include P2 level protection and a Required Minimum Protection Factor (RMPF) relevant to the Occupational Exposure Limits (OEL) referenced in the relevant Safety Data Sheet, combined with an understanding of your work environment.

    Using P2 rated respirators protect against thermally generated particulates (which includes those given off when welding galvanised steel).

    Using a combination of the above techniques and controls will give you the best chance at maximising your welding safety and avoiding exposure to toxic welding fume and gases.

    If you have any questions, feel free to contact the expert team at Eweld!

    Here are some respiratory options to suit a wide range of applications: 

    Disposable Respirators

    Reusable Respirators

    Speedglas Welding Helmets with Powered Air

    Speedglas Welding Helmets with Supplied Air

    Best respiratory protection when welding galvanised steel

    A question we often get asked is ‘what sort of protection do I need when welding galvanised steel?’ Everyone knows the danger of welding fumes from gal – with the health effects ranging from headaches, cramping and nausea to metal fume fever and respiratory diseases.

    Galvanised steel gives off dangerous zinc oxide particles when welded. As mentioned in the AWS Welding Fume White Paper released earlier this year, welding fumes have been reclassified from ‘possibly carcinogenic to humans’ to ‘carcinogenic to humans’. It has never been more important for welders (and their respective employers) to review their workplace safety controls. Respiratory protection and good ventilation are a necessity!

    What protection do you actually need?

    P2 level protection and a Required Minimum Protection Factor (RMPF) relevant to the Occupational Exposure Limits (OEL) referenced in the relevant Safety Data Sheet and understanding of your work environment. P2 rated respirators protect against thermally generated particulates (which includes those given off when welding galvanised steel). You may also notice an odour or sour taste from the fume – if so, using an additional odour filter will help.

    What are my options?

    GOOD: Disposable Respirators

    The 3M 9322A+ mask gives you P2 protection and fits comfortably under your welding helmet. It features a Cool Flow valve which reduces heat and moisture build-up, keeping you cooler. If you require odour protection also, we recommend choosing a Reusable Respirator instead. Disposable respirators give you a Required Minimum Protection Factor (RMPF) of 10 meaning that if worn correctly the air you breathe will be 10 times cleaner than you would be breathing with no protection.

    BETTER: Reusable Respirators

    Reusable Respirators are comfortable and more versatile, with a range of separate filters which can be stacked on to the mask. This configuration lets you combine particulate, filter or odour protection to suit your environment. For Speedglas 9100 customers, the 3M 7528 Welding Respirator Kit gives you everything you need to get started. If you use a Speedglas 100 Series helmet, the 3M 6528 Welding Respirator Kit can be used. Reusable respirators give you an RMPF of 10 meaning that if worn correctly the air you breathe will be 10 times cleaner than you would be breathing with no protection.

    BEST: Powered Air

    A powered air system is a belt-mounted respirator which provides welders with fresh, clean air by filtering out harmful particles, odours or gases. The Adflo PAPR range has different filters which can be ‘stacked on’ to give you flexible gas, odour or particle protection. The Adflo system is used in conjunction with the Speedglas 9100XXi Series of welding helmets, with a range of helmet configurations available. Powered air respirators give you an RMPF of 50 meaning that if worn correctly the air you breathe will be 50 times cleaner than you would be breathing with no protection.

    Check out our range of 3M Disposable Respirators

    See the range of 3M Reusable Respirators

    View the Speedglas 9100XXi Welding Helmets with Adflo PAPR

    Important information all welders NEED to know!

    Important information all welders NEED to know!

    Welding Fume White Paper

    In early 2017, welding fume was reclassified by the International Agency on the Research of Cancer from classification Group 2B (possibly carcinogenic to humans) to Group 1 (Carcinogenic to humans). This change was primarily associated with the effects of UV exposure on the skin and eyes and also for lung cancers and limited evidence for kidney cancer from welding fume exposures.

    The above information outlined in the Welding Fume White Paper has led to a massive rethink from Australian employers and employees regarding welding safety. Already, there has been a massive push toward powered air respirators (PAPR) being used where respiratory hazards are present.

    While welders have known welding fume is ‘not good’ for your health for a long time, the findings by the IARC are significant in that they CONFIRM the link to cancer. Such an important finding is bound to have a significant impact on welding safety in Australia, and shine the spotlight upon the use of appropriate welding equipment and welding supplies.

    Powered air respirators are one control measure that is effective in protecting welders against particles, gases and hazardous vapours, as they provide a steady flow of filtered air straight to the breathing zone. This allows you to weld comfortably while remaining protected against airborne hazards.

    No matter how big or small the job, we encourage ALL welders to wear appropriate respiratory PPE in ensuring they are protected against dangerous gases, particles and fumes!

    For more information, make sure you download the Welding Fume White Paper 

    View the Speedglas 9100 Welding Helmets with Adflo PAPR here

    View the Speedglas 9100 Welding Helmets with Versaflo Supplied Air here

    View the range of 3M Reusable Respirators here

    New Speedglas Heavy Duty Series Launches!!

    New Speedglas Heavy Duty Series Launches!!

    The 3M™ Adflo™ powered air purifying respirator (PAPR) has become one of the most popular and widely awarded powered air welding respirators in the world. A slim, robust system designed specifically for welders has now been released in a heavy duty (HD) version to deliver added features and improved performance.

    The new 3M™ Adflo™ HD Series features the new super lightweight heavy duty battery (40% lighter than the previous model) which can extend battery operating time to 12 hours. This can give the welder an extra four (4) hours over the standard systems.

    The HD series also features the new one hour rapid charge. This allows the welder to charge the heavy duty battery from 0% to 80% capacity in approximately one hour.

    The new Adflo PAPR HD system is available with the following 3M™ Speedglas™ Welding Helmets which all feature the new 3M™ Speedglas™ Welding Lens 9100XXi with Speedglas TrueView for crisp colour and clarity.

    · 3M™ Speedglas™ Welding Helmet 9100XXi Air
    · 3M™ Speedglas™ Flip-Up Welding Helmet 9100XXi FX Air
    · 3M™ Speedglas™ Flip-Up Welding & Safety Helmet 9100XXi MP Air

    Existing Adflo customers can upgrade to the lighter HD system with rapid charge by purchasing an upgrade kit that includes the all new HD battery pack and charger.