Do you need fume extraction or respiratory protective equipment?
This isn’t a grey area, the answer does however depend on several factors. The variation in these factors means that it is often not possible to make general statements such as “yes you do” or “no you don’t”.
Some examples of circumstances where extraction is normally needed
- Moderate to high volume MIG/MAG production welding, small or medium sized parts, welding on a bench; or in a screened off area. Welding on carbon (mild) steels and aluminium;
- High volume production welding using TIG on stainless steels or aluminium ;
- Welding of stainless steels using MIG, MAG, Flux cored or MMA (stick welding);
- Arc air gouging (you’ll normally need RPE + fume extraction);
- Welding or hot cutting galvanised materials (zinc plated);
- Welding or hot cutting materials containing cadmium, or painted with lead or chromate paints. It is better to remove the coating before welding but if you can’t then effective fume extraction and RPE is needed;
- automated cutting (eg flame or plasma). Many cutting machines already have extraction systems built in to the cutting table;
- automated multi-head resistance welding machines.