WORKERS ARE BEING LEFT EXPOSED TO WELDING FUMES
Workers have the right to safe and healthy workplaces. While not all risks can be removed, they can be reduced. Welding fumes have been classified as a Group 1 carcinogen (known to cause cancer in humans) since 2017 and are also known to cause other serious illnesses such as lung damage and emphysema. But the workplace exposure standard for welding fumes (WES) hasn't been updated since it was set in the 1990s.
WHY IS THE WORKPLACE EXPOSURE STANDARD IMPORTANT?
The WES is a general exposure standard that sets the upper limit of exposure a workplace can have for welding fumes. It's a critically important tool to keep workers safe.
The current Australian WES is 5mg/m³. Under this limit, welders are still notionally “allowed” to breathe up to 11 grams of a known carcinogen every year. In Germany, welders have an exposure limit of 1.25 mg/m³. In the Netherlands, it’s 1 mg/m³. This means an Australian worker can potentially be exposed to four to five times the level of a known carcinogen as some workers overseas.
THAT'S WHY WE'RE CALLING ON SAFE WORK AUSTRALIA TO ESTABLISH THE LOWER LIMIT OF 1MG/M³ TO SAVE WORKERS' LIVES.
WHO IS AT RISK?
Thousands of AMWU members across the country – like fitters, welders and boilermakers – weld every day. Workers who don't weld but are around welding are also exposed to fumes.
We've created the National Welding Fumes Exposure Register so workers who may have been exposed to welding fumes can record information for for their future reference. Having a recorded history of your exposure in the workplace can help you access any workers compensation you may be owed if you develop an illness or disease that is linked to welding fumes.
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