Weld Fume Testing
The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) require the maintenance and thorough examination and testing of control measures at specific intervals to ensure the control measures are effective at all times. Controls mean more than just the hardware (LEV and/or RPE) but also safe systems of work, provision of an RPE program and supervision.
You should make sure that all controls measures are maintained:
- in an efficient state
- in efficient working order
- in good repair and in clean condition
Most welding fumes are easy to see, so you can assess control by observing how well the LEV captures the fume. For TIG welding, where there is little visible fume, you may need to use a dust lamp.
You can video the process to do a qualitative fume assessment where arc welding processes produce UV radiation you cannot look at without suitable eye protection.
Local exhaust ventilation (LEV)
LEV performance can be tested for comparison to the capture velocity range 0.5m/s to 1m/s as described in the HSE guidance Controlling airborne contaminants at work (PDF) as appropriate for welding fume, soldering and liquid transfer. Higher-capture velocities may be required when there are draughts interfering with the flow of air into the hood.
Capture velocity measurement is not appropriate for testing on-torch extraction though. In this case total volumetric flow may be checked for comparison to the manufacturer’s recommendations in the user manual.
You should judge LEV performance on the effective capture of any welding fume, not just on the airflow measurements.
You must thoroughly examine and test LEV (PDF) at least every 14 months.
Respiratory protective equipment (RPE)
You must thoroughly inspect RPE before each use and for reusable RPE keep a record of your regular examinations, maintenance, repairs and, where appropriate, testing. The HSE publication Respiratory protective equipment at work (PDF) gives more guidance on this.
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