Are Your Workers Breathing Toxic Welding Fumes?
Welding fumes are a constant hazard to all industrial workers. Fumes of any sort can pose a serious health risk to the average worker. However, it is not restricted to fumes; particles of all sorts are ‘airborne contaminants’, which pose a risk to anyone who breathes them.
We have seen the horrors of asbestosis: severe fibrosis of the lungs, and mesothelioma. Now, we are seeing outbreaks of silicosis in major industries, from stonemasonry to mining. This article outlines the potential fumes a standard fabricator or welder may be exposed to, the impact it can have on their health, and how Solar Whiz can provide a solution.
Start considering welding fume extraction. Solar Whiz Commercial has you covered for ventilation of fumes and other airborne contaminant.
Familiarise yourself with the risks—Read Safe Work Australia’s workplace standards for airborne contaminants.
What’s Inside Welding Fumes?
Gasses and fumes are produced during the welding process. The fumes produced depend on the materials being welded, but some examples include:
- Aluminium fumes
- Beryllium fumes
- Chromium fumes
- Copper fumes
- Iron oxides
- Lead fumes
- Nickel fumes
- Zinc fumes
This wide range of gasses causes symptoms varying from minor respiratory discomfort to acute irritation and metal fume fever. While some effects are temporary and easily treated with rest, many fumes have been recognised as carcinogenic or otherwise dangerous to long-term health.
There are a range of methods to reduce the amount of fumes being generated, but these are not perfect or always applicable. For example, submerged arc welding (SAW) is a fantastic way to suppress the immense amount of UV light and fumes that are generated without sacrificing the weld’s quality. However, SAW welding is difficult to perform on rounded or complicated surfaces, which make it impractical is some circumstances. This method also requires a strict handling procedure and recycling system in place to be truly effective.
Fume extraction is essential. Without it, airborne contaminants will build up inside a work space or rise overhead. Left untreated, the particulate count can rise to unsafe levels and jeopardise the health of workers. There is plenty of documentation on exposure standards to make sure workers and employers understand the risks.
Want to learn more about welding fumes & gasses?—Read CCOHS’s Fact Sheet on welding fumes & gasses.
Welding Fume Extraction
General ventilation systems […] may be useful to control minor emissions of contaminants of low toxicity. In designing a (ventilation) system, particular attention should be paid to fan selection and to the placement of air extractors and fresh air supply openings. In particular, the movement of air should be arranged so that clean air streams are drawn past workers and contaminated ones lead away from them.
Many businesses turn to passive whirlybird extractors. The main issues with these are:
- Reliance on wind & heat – It is not always going to be hot or windy. In wintertime, it is entirely possible for a whirlybird to move no air at all.
- Poor performance – Your average residential whirlybird scarcely moves 100m³/h. Commercial-grade whirlybirds feature better throat size and machinery, but still under-perform compared to powered ventilators.
- Prone to seizing – Have a look at some whirlybirds on the roofs of homes or businesses. You’ll likely spot one or two whirlybirds in a group that aren’t moving, where others are. Ball bearings can rust or be jammed, which prevents a whirlybird from working at all.
Solar Whiz Commercial can provide up to 10,000m³/h of uninterrupted airflow. Direct overhead extraction removes fume build-up, and replaces it with fresh outdoor air. Aside from ventilating fumes, you also guarantee a cooler, more comfortable workplace for you and your staff.
Takeaway Thoughts for Fume Extraction
With the risks caused by fumes and gasses becoming more apparent, it is important to protect your business. Read more about commercial ventilation here to find out why Solar Whiz is the market leader for solar commercial ventilation.
Interested in powerful commercial ventilation? Get a quote for your business.