HSE recently issued a safety alert regarding exposure to welding fume. This was in response to new scientific evidence that such exposure, including to welding fume from mild steel, can cause lung cancer. The alert highlights the actions now required and the strengthening of HSE’s enforcement expectations in relation to them.


While welding fume was the focus of this new evidence, cutting and burning processes can also produce significant metal fume. Paragraph 24 of the guidance to the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) recommends employers review their risk assessments and controls in the light of such new knowledge. Equivalent control to welding fume is a suitable baseline.