The HSE recently conducted a study on the effects of welding fumes, including mild steel on operator health. They found that these fumes can not only cause occupational illnesses such as asthma or metal fume fever, but can also cause more serious problems like lung and kidney cancer.
As a result of findings in the study the HSE now states that there is no safe work exposure limit (WEL) for welding fumes. This means that even for a short welding operation or when welding outside, there must be suitable control measure put in place. This could be in the form of PPE which can be cumbersome and difficult to work with, it also doesn’t protect others working in the surrounding areas. Removing the hazard at source is the best way to control fume and prevent migration into other work areas.
The best control measures for capturing harmful welding fumes is a suitable LEV system of which there are a number of options to suit the different types of welding operations. Typically, there is a maneuverable hood which allows the operator to best locate the capture zone, a fan to remove the toxic fumes, and in some cases a filter to remove harmful particles.
Fixed LEV for Fume Extraction
For standard operations where the process is taking place on a bench or within a small production area a fixed LEV is often the best solution. Articulated extraction arms allow operators to locate the capture hood in the best position, the hood can be moved around the work piece ensure the best fume capture throughout the manufacturing process. Another option for smaller parts is a downdraft bench, this has the added benefit of providing constant extraction without the need for the operator move the hood around as they work.
Numerous extraction arms or downdraft tables can be connected together by a duct system providing adequate protection for a large number of operators. The duct system would be served by a high efficiency fan which often exhausts fume direct to atmosphere. However, if there is a large amount of extracted air, filtration can be added to allow air to be returned to the work space to reduce energy and heating bills.
Mobile Fume Extraction
For some welding operations mobility is key, if you are moving around a busy site to repair plant of machinery in situ it can be easy to forget about protection from fumes. Extraction Solutions have a number of mobile fume extraction carts to solve this problem.
The mobile filter carts are a complete extraction system in a functional mobile unit which houses a built-in fan and suitable filtration. It can be fitted with up to two articulated extraction and has the option of manual and automatic filter cleaning function. The dusts and waste particles are collected in a bin attached to the unit.
On-Tool Fume Extraction
Another mobile option for controlling welding fume is on tool extraction. The fume eliminator is small unit that can be carried around or placed on a welding cart. It can be equipped with various accessories either to connect to a welding torch for on tool extraction, or to connect a short hose and hood for capture placeme