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Health & Safety Executive targets fabricated metal businesses to protect workers from occupational lung diseases

View profile for Sarah Masters
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Health and Safety Executive targets fabricated metal businesses to protect workers from occupational lung diseases

Last year in the UK it is estimated that 12,000 people died from occupational lung diseases. As such, from 4th May 2021, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) started inspecting businesses in the fabricated metal industry to ensure they are managing the respiratory risks of welding fumes and metalworking fluids for their workers.

The HSE inspections have been checking the businesses are complying with the law and their welding fume guidance and metalworking fluid guidance. The inspection programme is a supported by the HSE’s ‘Work Right’ campaign which aims to get businesses thinking about health and safety and how it applies to their businesses. The campaign also looks to maximise participation and compliance in managing risk in the workplace by combining practical advice with simple actions businesses can take to manage workplace risk.

Exposure to welding fumes can cause cancer and exposure to metalworking fluids can cause a range of lung diseases, including occupational asthma and occupational hypersensitivity pneumonitis (OHP). Some lung diseases can be life changing, making the simplest of tasks hard but occupational lung disease can be prevented with the right measures in place.

Metalwork businesses can help to manage the dangers their workers face by completing sufficient risk assessments, ensuring their workers are trained, reduce exposure by using local exhaust ventilation (LEV) and providing them with suitable respiratory protective equipment (RPE), where required.

The businesses being inspected will need to demonstrate to the HSE inspectors that they are aware of the risks their workers face and plan their work using the right controls to protect their workers’ health. Where businesses do not evidence this to the inspectors, the HSE can take action in one of the following ways:

  • Providing specific advice;
  • Stopping certain work practices until they are made safe;
  • Issuing enforcement notices; and
  • Prosecution where a business fails to comply.

If you have developed a lung disease and you feel it is a direct result of your working environment, contact our expert industrial disease solicitors as you could be entitled to compensation for your condition. To speak with an expert no win, no fee industrial disease solicitor about your potential claim, call us on 0161 696 6235.