You may not be aware but during the past few months the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has been inspecting metal fabrication businesses across Great Britain to check they are managing the respiratory risks of welding fumes and metalworking fluids.
Since World Asthma Day 2021, which was held in May, health and safety inspectors have been targeting businesses whose workers undertake welding and use metalworking fluids to check they are complying with the welding fumes guidance and metalworking fluid guidance.
During the visits, dutyholders must 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.
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.
Inspectors are looking for evidence of employers and workers knowing the risks, planning their work and using the right controls to protect workers’ health. If necessary, they will use enforcement to make sure workers are protected.
While the primary focus has been on lung health during this programme of inspections, if an HSE inspector identifies 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.
It is great to see the HSE working with metal fabrication businesses to make sure their staff are being protected in their workplaces and it got us thinking about other areas where a similar focus could help to save lives.
One which immediately springs to mind is asbestos. When you think of the likes of builders, electricians, carpenters, painters, plasterers, plumbers, gas fitters, roofing contractors, engineers working in heating, ventilation and telecommunications, fire and burglar alarm installers, architects, building surveyors, shopfitters and maintenance workers you don’t expect asbestos to be their main focus. However, each and every one of them could potentially come into contact with asbestos in their day-to-day work and if they have not had the appropriate training the impact on their health and the health of others could be catastrophic.
Although asbestos has been banned in this country for two decades any property which was built before 2000 could potentially contain asbestos. Anyone working on a building containing asbestos needs to know it is there and what they need to do to make sure any work they are doing is carried out safely.
At Acorn Safety Services we offer asbestos management services and asbestos training through our sister company Acorn Analytical Services. Their expert team offers a wide range of services, including asbestos surveys, asbestos removal management, asbestos air testing, asbestos Stage 4 clearances, asbestos sample testing and asbestos awareness training.
Acorn’s UKATA asbestos awareness training promotes life-saving asbestos safety. This training should be given to all employees whose work could foreseeably disturb the fabric of a building and therefore expose them to asbestos. It should also be given to those who supervise or influence any such work. The Regulations’ Approved Code of Practice also recommends that a refresher should be undertaken at least once a year.
If you need help to manage your asbestos safely or could benefit from UKATA asbestos awareness training call Acorn Safety Services on 0844 818 0895.