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Immediate changes to the workplace exposure standard for welding

Safe Work Australia has announced an immediate reduction to the workplace exposure standard (WES) for welding fumes.

The change sees a reduction from an 8-hour time weighted average (TWA) of 5mg/m 3, to 1mg/m3.

The change to the WES is now mandatory in the WHS/OHS laws in the Commonwealth, states, and territories. Persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) must ensure that workers are not exposed to any airborne contaminant above the concentration listed in the exposure standards for airborne contaminants.

Welding fumes are complex mixtures of metallic oxides, silicates, and fluorides, that form when metal heats above its boiling point. As the metal cools, it condenses into particles so small, they can easily be breathed into the lungs causing possible adverse health effects.

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