The Role of Fume Extraction in Welding Operations

Welding is classed as one of the most hazardous occupations in the world due to the potential for fume inhalation causing serious diseases amongst workforces.

Employees exposed to welding fumes without the appropriate protection are 43% more likely to develop lung cancer than the general population.

A welder welding metalwork.

© Zamrznuti tonovi / Shutterstock

A global study published by the Occupational and Environmental Medicine journal researched the health of more than 17 million welders across Europe, the US and beyond. It found an increased risk of trachea, bronchus and lung cancer – welding fumes contain carcinogens including fluorides, metallic oxides and silicates.

Fume extraction in welding operations is an extremely important. As well as protecting employees, it is the key to businesses meeting the legal workplace safety standards required by the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002.


Why is welding fume extraction important?

A welding fume extraction system prevents workers from inhaling fumes in the air that could be hazardous to their health. Exposure could continue to impact their wellbeing in later life, even after they have retired, by causing life-changing medical conditions.

Fume extraction must be put in place when any welding is being carried out. This can include during training to become a welder at college, carrying out minor welding repairs in a small workshop, or working in a large factory where there are many welding workstations for goods manufacturing.

Aimed at removing hazardous fumes to make the working environment safe; fume extraction solutions are available for every welding operation.


What is welding fume extraction?

To eliminate hazardous fumes caused by welding, grinding or cutting; welding fume extraction removes airborne fumes from the work area to prevent employees from inhaling them.

Welding fumes are so hazardous that they can impact not only welders at their workstations, but also other employees working further away in a larger production area.

The process of welding causes components to form an unbreakable joint by applying high heat, either with or without a filler material. However, the process causes dangerous fumes to be released, mainly from the use of filler materials, but also because of a chemical reaction.

While you can clearly see some fumes, others are invisible to the naked eye. They don’t become less dangerous because they can’t be seen though.

The fumes can differ across the various types of welding, with MIG/MAG welding processes producing a relatively large volume of fumes compared with the less visible fumes caused by TIG welding stainless steel. However, they are all extremely carcinogenic and contain cancer-causing agents.

The fumes produced during welding depend on the parameters such as the length of the arc, current, angle, speed and manipulation, as well as the gas, base material and filler material used. Whether they can be seen, or the fumes are invisible, they are all hazardous, so a fume extraction system in all situations is crucial to protect the workforce.


AirBench fume extraction solutions

AirBench offers a number of dust and fume extraction solutions for the metalworking and fabrication industries including downdraught benches, cross-draught systems and dust control booths. Specifically designed for welding and grinding extraction, our products also provide spark protection through their design, offering high-grade final filtration.

Our extensive experience enables us to produce industry-leading fume extraction systems: as metal workers ourselves, we understand what will work. Suppliers to thousands of fabrication businesses across the UK, our extraction and filtration products meet or exceed the rigorous industry standards set out by COSHH and HSG258, as well as meeting other industry-specific standards when required.

Contact us for a demonstration. We’d be delighted to show you how our extraction solutions work, either at your site, or offsite for larger extraction systems.

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Why choose AirBench?

AirBench Ltd are the UK’s leading manufacturer of downdraught benches and cross draught extraction systems. We have more than 10,000 extraction systems in service in the UK and overseas. Along with our range of coolant mist filters and air cleaning systems, we are actively helping businesses across many industries solve their workplace dust and fume issues.


If you'd like to try an AirBench product for FREE simply book a demo and we'll bring one to you.