OSHA Controls for Weld Fume Management

Safety

OSHA Hierarchy for Weld Fume Control

OSHA Hierarchy for Weld Fume Control

There are many ways to control weld fume — from implementing a welding process change or new filler metal to the use of personal protective equipment. OSHA’s hierarchy of controls starts with controls that are perceived to be most effective and moves down to those considered least effective.

When determining an action plan, start at the top and work your way down the hierarchy — selecting the controls that are the most feasible, effective and permanent for your workplace. It may be necessary to implement multiple solutions to achieve the desired results.

With products that fulfill every level of OSHA’s hierarchy, and Safety Solutions Managers who are here to work with industrial hygienists and guide you through the process, Miller® and ITW welding products are your single-source solution for weld fume control.



Process Modification/Substitution

The first and most effective level in the hierarchy of controls physically removes the contaminant from the environment or substitutes it with something that does not produce the hazard1.

Although removing welding from your operations may not be feasible, substituting standard filler metal with low manganese filler metal can help reduce manganese fume emissions.

Depending on parameters, you could also consider using GMAW-pulse welding to significantly reduce fume emissions compared to conventional spray transfer. The control of the heat input in the weld puddle stabilizes the arc, reducing fume.

Level 1 Product Recommendation

Engineering Controls

Following OSHA’s recommendations, the second most effective level in the hierarchy places a barrier between the welder and the hazard1.

Examples of engineering controls include automated welding, which encloses the process and uses an extraction system to remove the contaminated air. General ventilation and source capture are two additional methods, with source capture being the preferred method because of its ability to capture and remove contaminants at their source before they reach the welder’s breathing zone.

New source capture methods like ZoneFlow™ technology create a larger capture area — keeping environments cleaner and improving productivity through fewer arm interactions so welders can focus on welding.

 

Work Practice Controls

The third most effective level in the hierarchy prevents or reduces the welder’s exposure to a hazard1 by modifying how they work.

Training equipment such as Miller® AugmentedArc® and LiveArc™ systems can help keep welders compliant and productive by teaching proper welding technique, accurate weld setting adjustments for a stable arc and reduced fume, and body positioning.

To aid in head positioning, new advances like ClearLight™ Lens Technology enhance visibility so the welder can see their weld and surroundings better. A better view can also reduce overwelding and rework and ultimately lead to less fume. Welders should always place their heads away from the weld plume.

 

Personal Protective Equipment

The fourth level of the OSHA hierarchy should be put into action when all other levels are not feasible, while they are being implemented or when they do not reduce the hazard1 enough to gain compliance.

The full line of Miller® respirators are designed specifically for welding — keeping welders comfortable, compliant and productive.

Level 4 Product Recommendations