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Over half-a-million workers in the U.S. are involved in welding-related processes. Filler metals, base materials, coatings and/or gases utilized in the welding process can emit various types of fume that have the potential to be hazardous, depending on the fumes’ composition and concentration. Companies must be aware of Permissible Exposure Limits set by OSHA for various types of particulate and/or gases found in weld fume to effectively manage worker exposure.
If your company is faced with elevated weld fume levels, what can be done to become OSHA compliant? OSHA’s Hierarchy of Controls should be considered when selecting a fume solution. It is important to choose a control measure that will offer employees adequate protection without negatively impacting productivity. Thanks to recent innovations, there are a variety of welding-specific fume management solutions available.
Weld fume management is an ongoing process that should be continuously evaluated. Any time there is a regulation or workplace change (personnel, material, production process, equipment, work practice or control method), companies must validate their compliance.
Bert Schiller – Certified Industrial Hygienist, Bert Schiller & Associates, Inc.
Bert Schiller is an industrial hygienist certified in the Comprehensive Practice of Industrial Hygiene (CIH) with over 35 years of experience with a wide variety of industries. Schiller also worked with OSHA in Michigan for five years and has taught industrial hygiene at Madonna University in Livonia, MI, for the last 20 years.
Al Hilbert – Fume Extraction Product Manager, Miller Electric Mfg. Co.
Al Hilbert is the product manager focused on developing fume-extraction products for Miller Electric with more than 23 years of experience in the welding industry. His background includes both mechanical and electrical having worked in product testing, technical services and applications support in a wide range of industrial products. Hilbert is a member of AWS SH1 committee on fumes and gases, AIHA – Wisconsin Chapter and the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH).
Stephanie Lowney – Respiratory Product Specialist, Miller Electric Mfg. Co.
Stephanie Lowney is responsible for respiratory development within Miller Electric’s Arc Armor™ line of welding protection. She has over six years of safety and sales experience within the welding industry. Lowney is a member of the AIHA – Wisconsin Chapter and the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH).
Aaron Bischoff – Weld Engineer – Hobart Brothers Co.
Aaron Bischoff is a graduate of the welding engineering program at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, MI, and has held positions working in robotic integration for the heavy equipment industry, conducting research of weld fume, developing and implementing welding process for the heavy equipment industry, and working on the development of filler metals to address the welding environmental market. Bischoff is also a member of both the AWS SH1 committee on fumes and gases and the AWS D16 robotic welding committee.
Kyle Morrison, Senior Associate Editor, Safety+Health magazine, National Safety Council, covers occupational safety and workplace safety regulation for the magazine. He moderated the session.