A proposal to abolish a workplace exposure standard (WES) for welding fumes will leave workers at greater risk of exposure to the unknown deadly cocktail of welding fumes.
The Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) has called on Safe Work Australia (SWA) to not only retain the WES when it meets tomorrow to vote on the proposal but to strengthen it.
SWA claim the WES is inadequate. Their answer is to remove it rather than strengthen it and make it more fit for purpose. The current standard sets the upper limit of exposure a worker can have to welding fumes.
Welding fumes were reclassified as a Group 1 carcinogen by the International Agency for the Research on Cancer in 2017. They can also cause other serious illnesses including lung damage and emphysema.
The AMWU will deliver a petition to all SWA members before the meeting signed by hundreds of workers engaged in or around welding work calling on them to keep and strengthen the WES.
Quotes attributable to AMWU National President Andrew Dettmer:
“There is no research or justification to abolish the workplace exposure standard for welding fumes. SWA has made the recommendation without consulting the workers it directly affects and their union.
“Every worker has the right to be safe at work. Eroding welding safety standards will leave workers at greater risk of developing cancer and other chronic health issues due to exposure to deadly welding fumes.
“The work that our members do can take a significant toll on their bodies and can be very dangerous – they need better safety standards in their workplaces, not less.
“Australian exposure standards already lag behind many other countries. Removing them all together puts workers at risk.”
Safe Work Australia is scheduled to meet via Zoom at 10am 14 October 2021
For further comment: Cinzia Myatt 0437 139 801