Protecting welders against welding fumes is an ongoing topic of discussion. This is partly because of the importance to maintain welder safety, and partly because of the common law and statutory obligations of employers to do so. The subject is again in the spotlight following the release of findings by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which re-classified welding fumes as “carcinogenic to humans”.
(See the reference abstract at The Lancet Oncology) www.thelancet.com/journals/lanonc/article/PIIS1470-2045(17)30255-3/abstract
For employers, the reclassification of welding fumes as “carcinogenic to humans” will spur many to consider changing the type of welding helmets issued to their staff or supplied by sub contractors working in a welding environment on their behalf.
Traditional basic welding helmets do provide protection against different intensities of light from arc flash using appropriate shading in welding lenses. They also protect against airborne metallic debris from the grinding process by using a suitable grinding visor, as well as afford the welder physical protection against external hazard.
However, the IARC findings will now likely further fuel the need for the use of helmets that also minimise the risks associated with inhaling welding fumes.
When assessing such helmets, employers and welders should consider integrated respirator systems that supply positive pressure airflow to reduce heat discomfort experienced from continuous welding. The system should also include filtration that removes particulate, fume and odour. Additionally, the system would include a gas scrubber/filter to remove potentially harmful elements in vapour phase associated directly with the welding activity.
These safety features, when combined with a helmet that maximises the viewing area and clarity, offers simple helmet adjustment control or change to a grinding visor function without the need to remove the helmet, will likely help to ensure the welding activity is achieved without forgoing quality and productivity.
At EMEX 2018, Stand 2035, Kemppi will be displaying its range of established high-quality welding helmets which are all designed compliant to relevant AS/NZ standards. The range includes the latest GAMMA series, which incorporates technology features to meet welder safety, comfort and work quality needs.