Focus on regulations on health, safety and environment for welding has become a main topic in all aspects. And let`s face it, we absolutely need to put focus on these topics. Regulations on health, safety and environment is also important when it comes to welding and related processes. New studies and reports determine that welding smoke is carcinogenic and has now been classified in Risk Group 1 (International Agency for Research on Cancer – IARC), the highest classification for cancer risks for humans. Welding smoke is then in the same risk category as radioactive substances such as Plutonium, smoking, or Chrome IV components. We can’t undermine the health, safety and environment aspects no longer. Lung cancer is likely to occur more commonly for welders – approx 44% – compared to people who have not been exposed to a welder’s environment. (theage.com.au, 2014).
Implementation of TRGS-528
Based on this fact, updating and implementation of new norms and standards related to welding, related processes and hazardous substances and particles hereof, is an important task to implement and integrate to protect persons working in the mechanical/welding industry. In Germany, a new updated version of the TRGS-528 (Technical rules for Hazardous substances) is under planning, and will most likely be implemented soon. This new edition of TRGS-528, applies to activities in welding practices, such as welding, cutting and allied processes conducted on metallic materials, where gaseous and particulate hazardous substances may occur. In practice, these substances are also called pollutants. In general, TRG-528 does describe the process how to implement a safe and effective way of removal of the welding smoke and particles.
Extract close to the source
From the risk analyze, via the implementation of correct equipment, to the measurement of an approved and safe environment for the welder and his colleagues inside the workshop. The owner of the workshop has the responsibility to ensure a safe and healthy workplace. The main solution (based upon tests and experience) given in the rules is: Extract the smoke as close to the source as possible.
Furthermore, the new rules describe preferred methods of achieving good results for a variety of different welding processes and various areas of industry. In most cases it states that the preferred way of extraction is fume guns, nozzles attached to the gun, or small fume nozzles close to the welding source.
Logically, the best way to extract is as close to the source as possible. But we know from the past that fume removal with fume guns and nozzles have disadvantages. Like more weight on the gun, flexibility of the gun, moving the nozzle etc. But similar or other disadvantages will also be highly present for other types of extraction (low vacuum swingarms).
Extracting further away from the source
Efficient extraction further away from the source needs more air; up to 10 times more than fume guns and nozzles. The risk of having fume in the breathing zone is much higher, and moving the hood is still necessary. Low vacuum extraction solutions demand more space. Low vacuum extraction solutions represent solutions extracting further away.
High vacuum extraction is the solution
The most effective fume removal methods have been determined by various tests in the new version of the TRGS-528. Tests show that fume guns and high vacuum fume extraction gives the best results. And high vacuum extraction is in total, the most safe and economic solution for extraction of welding smoke.
One other topic that has been brought up in the new edition of TRGS-528 is the following. Manufacturer of fume guns and equipment for on torch or nozzles, must specify efficient airflow and pressure drop for the equipment. This will for sure, result in more focus on improvement of equipment available for high vacuum extraction solutions.
Finally, one huge advantage for the high vacuum extraction solutions, is that it is a multipurpose system. High vacuum extraction solutions can be used for many extraction processes. Also to remove smoke. It is perfect for extraction from grinders, sanders, particle removal, vacuum cleaning as well as water or humidity removal.
More info about high vacuum extraction products can be found on www.reglo.no.