Employee’s exposure to hazardous substances
Today we were in Peterborough where our client asked us to carry out an assessment of occupational exposure to hazardous substances. Our main objectives of the assessment are; to measure the concentration of inhalable dust within the working environment, to measure the concentration of welding fumes within the working environment, to establish the daily personal exposure of the employees at risk and finally to be able to advise on suitable risk control for the future.
How we calculate the daily personal exposure to employees
In order to calculate the daily personal exposure to the employees our surveyor had to take samples of airborne particulates. These airborne particulates were collected using Cassella Vortex and Ipex personal sampling pumps which were fitted with 5-hole samplers. The samplers were positioned in the breathing zone of each operative outside the respiratory protective equipment. Sampling flow rates had to be calibrated prior to and after sampling using an FM 2 (0.3-3.0l/min) working flow meter. Sampling for welding fumes were also collected, at the flow rate of 2L/min and onto 25mm QMA filters.
What did air monitoring reveal?
The results of air monitoring suggested that the welding operatives are unlikely to be exposed to levels of Chromium, Hexavalent Chromium, Manganese and Copper fumes above the recommended workplace exposure limits. Although this was not the case in regards to dust as air monitoring suggested that the employees are likely to be exposed to levels of inhalable and aluminium dust above the recommended workplace exposure limits. However if employees are using the respiratory protective equipment provided then this will prevent them being exposed to welding fumes and dusts above the workplace exposure limits.
How to minimise occupational exposure to hazardous substances
Based on the results of air monitoring our surveyor was able to recommend the most suitable remediation measures for our client in order to minimise his employees’ exposure to hazardous substances. As discussed above, it is recommended that employees wear the respiratory protective equipment supplied as it is proven to prevent them being exposed to levels of welding fumes and dusts above the recommended limit. Therefore it is the employers responsibility to enforce this and ensure that employees are using equipment effectively. This comes hand in hand with adequate training being provided. Employees should be trained on health risks from hazardous substances in the workplace, control measures, their use and maintenance. Refresher training should be provided at least once a year.