Home > Equipment & Environment > Safety and Fume Management

Safety and Fume Management

By: Kevin Watson MSc - Updated: 7 May 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Fumes Health Workplace Metal Solder Flux

A number of industries use processes that generate fumes. At best, these fumes may be irritating; at worst, they can cause serious and even fatal diseases.

Employers must therefore manage fumes safely. They should be aware of the Hazardous Nature of Fumes, and have systems in place to ensure any risks to health are minimal.

Metal and Casting Industry

Metal and casting fumes can pose an extreme risk to health. Businesses that use molten metal must abide by the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH).

In any metal and casting foundry there must be ventilation. Fumes are hot and tend to rise, so there should be suitable vents and extraction fans in ceilings and high on walls.

In addition, a foundry should have low-level vents. These help to ensure a good flow of air through the building.

In some circumstances foundry workers may also need PPE (personal protective equipment).

Solder Fumes

One of the major causes of occupational asthma in the UK is rosin-based solder flux.

Rosin is a resin-like substance that comes from pine trees. Although it’s a natural product, it contains various potentially harmful acids.

Early symptoms of a health problem from rosin-based solder flux are stinging, watery eyes; a sore throat; breathing problems; coughing; and a blocked or runny nose.

HSE (Health and Safety Executive) research has shown there is no safe level of exposure to the fumes of rosin-based solder flux. Furthermore, if a workplace has no effective controls in place, the fumes drift and soon fill a room.

A workplace should have extraction fans and other forms of suitable ventilation. PPE such as masks can also help.

Employers should also consider alternatives types of flux that don’t use rosin. And for some jobs, mechanical joints may be a useful substitute.

Stainless Steel Welding

An HSE report has found there may be a widespread failure to manage exposure to stainless steel welding fumes correctly. The companies involved therefore fail to meet COSHH guidelines.

This failure doesn’t necessarily mean that workers are at risk. In fact, the HSE report suggests that violations of exposure limits on test sites were uncommon. But the fumes from stainless steel welding can contain hexavalent chromium and nickel. If inhaled, these may cause asthma, cancer and lung disease.

Employers should follow COSHH recommendations. These include a proper use of an LEV (local exhaust ventilation) hood. These are moveable hoods that enclose and extract fumes. Among some welding companies there is an incorrect belief that an LEV impairs the effectiveness of a stainless steel weld.

Fume Cupboards

Fume cupboards are common in the pharmaceutical industry. The cupboards manage fumes safely, but many are uncomfortable for workers to use and pose a threat to health.

Some cupboards are difficult to reach, for example. Others are too low. And some have badly-positioned control panels that block the operator’s view.

When choosing a fume cupboard, it’s wise to consider ergonomics. Questions to ask include:

  • Can an operator sit comfortably when using the cupboard?
  • Does the cupboard have adjustable legs?
  • Is there a foot platform?
  • Are the controls in a suitable position?

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Tamjp
    Re: Employer Has Changed My Shifts: What Are My Rights?
    I've worked for my employer 4 years it's a retail store I'm a single parent and i am available to…
    25 April 2017
  • Gem
    Re: Understanding Your Employment Contract
    I am contracted to work 35 hours a week as set out in my contract. Last few weeks I have only been given 20hours a…
    25 April 2017
  • Craig
    Re: Understanding Your Employment Contract
    I have been on sick for over a month and have just been and had a well being meeting with HR and a manager and been…
    25 April 2017
  • SafeWorkers
    Re: National Minimum Wage
    Ladyluck18 - Your Question:Are employers allowed to deduct money out of our wages for even small mistakes made at work? I.e.) a mixed up…
    24 April 2017
  • SafeWorkers
    Re: Zero Hours Contracts Explained
    Ladyluck18 - Your Question:All employees other than management are on national minimum wage at my place of work, we all are…
    24 April 2017
  • SafeWorkers
    Re: Workplace Injury Claim
    Jk1 - Your Question:Hi I wanted to know if anyone has any advice I was working for a company where we all had to wear safety shoes After a…
    24 April 2017
  • Shar
    Re: Exemptions to the Smoking Ban
    I work in an aged care facility, we are asked to take residents outside for a smoke, do we have the right to refuse?
    24 April 2017
  • Ladyluck18
    Re: National Minimum Wage
    Are employers allowed to deduct money out of our wages for even small mistakes made at work? I.e.) a mixed up for order? Our boss/manager…
    23 April 2017
  • Ladyluck18
    Re: Zero Hours Contracts Explained
    All employees other than management are on national minimum wage at my place of work, we all are classed as part time I guess…
    23 April 2017
  • Jk1
    Re: Workplace Injury Claim
    Hi I wanted to know if anyone has any advice I was working for a company where we all had to wear safety shoes After a few months my feet…
    23 April 2017
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the SafeWorkers website. Please read our Disclaimer.