Exposure Assessment | MillerWelds


Weld Fume Protection

It’s critical to understand if exposure to airborne contaminants are putting your workers and facility at risk. If exposure levels reach OSHA PELs, or other applicable government occupational exposure limits, whichever is lower, there are methods to reduce potential hazards, protect workers’ health and ensure compliance.

Determine if Your Exposure Levels are Safe Using the Following 2-step Process.

Step 1: Exposure Assessment

Have the air in your facility tested by a certified Industrial Hygienist to determine contaminant concentrations, ensuring exposure levels do not exceed limits as outlined in the chart below, or other applicable government occupational exposure limits, whichever is lower. To contact an Industrial Hygienist, visit www.aiha.org or call 703-849-8888.

 Substance Exposure Limits Chart

Step 2: Determine an Action Plan

Based on air sampling results, you may need to implement control measures to manage fume exposure within your facility. Following OSHA’s Hierarchy of Controls will limit the risk of worker injury and illness, providing a safer and more productive work environment.

Follow the step(s) below to reduce exposure levels and potential hazards:

Process Modification/Substitution:
Miller Recommends: Hobart® Element™ Wire, Miller Advanced Welding Processes and Equipment, Miller Welding Automation.

The first step in reducing exposure is to eliminate the hazard from the process, or modify the process to reduce airborne contaminants. Examples of this step include: eliminating welding operations, using low-fume welding consumables, changing to a welding process with lower fume generation or integrating automation welding, altering machine parameters and/or switching to a specialized shielding gas mix. If process modifications alone are not feasible or do not reduce exposure levels enough, continue to next step.

Engineering Controls:
Miller Recommends: FILTAIR® Fume Extraction Systems, Bernard® Fume Guns.

Engineering controls are used to remove a hazard. Well-designed engineering controls can be highly effective in protecting workers and will sometimes be independent of worker interactions, depending on the solution chosen. Ventilation is an effective way to remove the fume at the source of generation before it reaches the welder's breathing zone. Ventilation can take the form of natural dilution ventilation, mechanical dilution ventilation or local exhaust ventilation. If engineering controls are not feasible or do not reduce exposure levels enough, continue to next step.

Work Practice Controls:
Miller Recommends: Changes to Workplace, Training and Education.

Work practice controls include changes to workplace procedures, policies and the way people work that limit and/or prevent exposure to the hazards. Training, job scheduling and hygiene are examples of work practice controls that can be used to minimize worker exposure to welding fume. Often these controls are used in conjunction with other control measures to promote a safe work environment.

Personal Protective Equipment:
Miller Recommends: Respirators

When engineering controls are not feasible, while they are being implemented, or when they are not able to reduce employee exposure below permissible levels, respiratory protection should be implemented. Disposable Respirators, Half Masks, Powered Air Purifying Respirators (PAPR) and Supplied Air Respirators (SAR) are common in welding applications.