Guide to Protecting Against Welding Fumes

A Guide to Protecting Against Welding Fumes – From the Experts

Welding is a crucial process for industrial settings across the board, allowing teams to maintain structures, machinery, and various other components that might otherwise require disposal. It’s a specialised process that takes years to master, including safety aspects.

When sparks fly, there’s another kind of hazard that doesn’t always get the attention it should: the welding fumes. Airborne particles from welding pose a more than significant health risk to welders and anyone else on-site, but they often go unmanaged because they’re difficult to see or protect against.

At Consultex, we make it our job to protect against unseen hazards. That’s why we’ve created a simple guide to investigate the health risks of welding fumes. In this post, come with us as we explore the health risks of welding fumes and best practices for industrial welding. We’ll also explore welding fume extraction in NZ.

Keep yourself and your crew safe by being proactive with the tips from this guide. Ready to dive in? Then, let’s get started.

The Health Risks of Welding Fumes

The term ‘welding fumes’ is somewhat misleading because they aren’t just gaseous. Welding fumes are a blend of tiny particles and gases generated during the welding process. Like many unseen hazards, they don’t create any immediate effects. However, the effects of long-term unprotected exposure can lead to several serious health issues.

Some, but not all, of the health issues associated with inhaling welding fumes include:

  • Respiratory issues. Inhaling the tiny particles and gases can damage the lining of the lungs and your windpipe. In time, this can lead to bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma, and even chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • Metallic fume fever. This is a more short-term symptom of welding with certain metals. Inhaling zinc oxide fumes from zinc-coated or galvanised materials can induce a condition called metal fume fever. Symptoms include fever, chills, nausea, and muscle aches (much like a severe flu).
  • Cancer risk. Hexavalent chromium and nickel are classified as carcinogens. When inhaled, these aspects of welding fumes can increase the risk of lung cancer and other respiratory cancers.

Best Practices for Welding in Industrial Environments

Before starting an industrial welding project, creating a protocol for doing it safely is vital. This is a big part of the work we do with industrial teams.

Much like creating a site safety plan, creating a plan to safely weld is essential. These protective measures are extremely important, so let’s take a moment to review them.


Adequate ventilation is crucial to disperse welding fumes, preventing them from building up in your workspace. Welding extraction hoods and fans are the perfect local exhaust ventilation systems, creating optimal airflow to draw damaging fumes away from the welder.

Protect Your Respiratory System

All welders and nearby workers should wear appropriate PPE to protect their respiratory systems. This can look like N95 respirators or powered air-purifying respirators (PAPRs) alongside standard PPE like protective clothing, gloves, and eyewear.

This is especially important in confined spaces.

Mitigate Danger in Confined Spaces

Speaking of which, it’s doubly important to be careful in confined spaces. In fact, it’s important to avoid welding in confined spaces whenever possible, as this can be twice as dangerous. If you have to weld in a confined space, ensure there is proper ventilation with on-site exhaust ventilation systems. It’s also best to conduct a thorough risk assessment before starting any work.

Testing and Welding Fume Extraction

Finally, the best way to supplement these careful safety protocols is to ensure they are working properly. Welding fume extraction allows us to capture the fumes as welding is happening, sampling the air via pumps and then testing the sample with electronic instrumentation.

We test for airborne contaminants as well as make a plan that incorporates the welding process used, the metals, gases, and fluxes. From there, we’ll recommend the next steps for managing any risk to the welders and the surrounding crew. Not only that, we’ll work with you to determine who else on-site is exposed and mitigate any health risks.

At the end of the day, the most important thing to do when welding is to make a thorough plan before beginning work. As with any job on an industrial scale, there are a lot of moving parts to consider. When in doubt, reach out to a team of experts.

It’s our job to be on-site with you, testing the materials in use, testing the air as welding occurs, and encouraging the proper use of PPE every step of the way.

Make sure you can weld safely with welding fume extraction in NZ.

At Consultex, we work with you to test the materials on-site to ensure that welding will be safe for you and your crew. We’ll also work with you to craft solutions for potentially unsafe welding environments, including welding fume extraction.

Invest in your health and safety. Contact Consultex today for personalised solutions for welding fume extraction in NZ that safeguard your workplace and your well-being. 

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