Following the strengthening of enforcement expectation for all welding fume (including mild steel) in February of this year (see safety bulletin, HSE Inspectors will be carrying out visits to engineering and fabrication sites between January and March 2020, ensuring high-risk activities – particularly those affecting the health of workers – are being properly managed through provision of the following as a minimum (regardless of welding duration):

  • Suitable local exhaust ventilation (LEV) for all indoor welding activities, with respiratory protective equipment (RPE) for any residual risk, and
  • Appropriate RPE for welding outdoors


Checks will be made of workplaces to ensure key health and safety risks have been addressed – especially from welding fume exposure which causes lung diseases, asthma and cancer.

To ensure you have appropriate control measures in place, free guidance is available on the HSE website:

A free-to-download, web-friendly version of HSE’s “Health and safety in engineering workshops” is also available by clicking on the link: and describes how most serious and frequent hazards arise, how to assess the risks involved, and how to eliminate or control them.

There are many thousands of accidents and cases of ill health reported every year in small engineering workshops. Almost two-thirds of all such accidents reported to HSE arise from the movement of people, goods and vehicles into, around and out of workshops. Of these ‘movement’ accidents:

  • about half involve lifting and moving goods, and
  • about half involve slips, trips and falls and hitting stationary or moving plant and equipment.


‘Non-movement’ accidents usually arise from the use of machinery; these account for between 10 and 15% of all accidents.

Electrical accidents are not uncommon and frequently have the potential for more serious injuries than those recorded.

The most common occupational diseases are dermatitis, deafness, asthma and vibration white finger, and back, hand, arm, shoulder and neck problems.

In any particular, workshop risks which are relevant should be assessed. Those likely to be of most concern include:

  • movement of people, goods and vehicles around the workshop, particularly manual handling
  • machinery safeguarding
  • hazardous substances, particularly metalworking fluids, degreasing solvents, and dust or fume from welding, brazing, soldering, coating and painting
  • noise, and
  • vibration


Free guidance on how to carry out risk assessments is available at



Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.