Last reviewed 13 May 2021

Last year in the UK, 12,000 people died from lung diseases estimated to be linked to past exposure from work in a range of sectors.

There is scientific evidence that exposure to welding fumes can cause lung cancer and exposure to metalworking fluids can cause a range of lung diseases, including occupational asthma and occupational hypersensitivity pneumonitis (OHP), which are debilitating diseases with life-changing impact.

Marking World Asthma Day 2021, earlier this month, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) announced that it would be inspecting fabricated metal businesses across Great Britain to check that they are managing the respiratory risks of welding fumes and metalworking fluids.

The aim will be to check that they are complying with the welding fumes guidance (which can be found at www.hse.gov.uk/welding) and the COSHH metalworking fluid guidance (available at www.hse.gov.uk/metalworking).

During the visits, the HSE explained, duty-holders will need to demonstrate they have measures in place to manage risks to protect their workers from occupational lung disease and #WorkRight to keep workers healthy and safe.

While the primary focus will be on lung health during this programme of inspections, if HSE inspectors identify any other areas of concern, they will take the necessary enforcement action to ensure these are dealt with.

This will include making sure that businesses are Covid-secure and doing all they can to protect their workers from the risk of coronavirus.

HSE’s Acting Head of Manufacturing and Utilities Unit, Clare Owen, said: “Duty-holders need to do the right thing, for example through completing a risk assessment, ensuring workers are trained and reducing exposure using local exhaust ventilation and using suitable respiratory protective equipment to protect workers, where required.”