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 News Update 

Pneumonia from welding and Metal fumes​

 

As a continuation of the Safewell article Are welding fumes cancerous. Click the link to read the article. The HSE have issued further guidelines on Pneumonia vaccinations to help prevent and control exposure to welding fumes and related respiratory conditions.

In October 2012 the Department of Health (DOH) issued the following revised guidelines,1 which recommend that employers make arrangements for the vaccination of employees exposed to welding or metal fume against pneumonia:

There is an association between exposure to metal fume and pneumonia and infectious pneumonia, particularly lobar pneumonia and between welding and invasive pneumococcal disease. PPV (single 0.5 ml dose in those who have not received PPV previously) should be considered for those at risk of frequent or continuous occupational exposure to metal fume (eg welders), taking into account the exposure control measures in place. Vaccination may reduce the risk of invasive pneumococcal disease but should not replace the need for measures to prevent or reduce exposure.

Whilst the correct COSHH measures need to be in place, i.e. sufficient extraction and correctly used and maintained Respiratory equipment. (Half masks and or, air fed full face hooded masks for example.) This is an additional option to help prevent further possible complications.

Below is a pneumonia vaccine flowchart designed to guide employers who may consider implementing vaccinations for their employees.

The decision to offer the vaccination for pneumococcal pneumonia should be made by employers as an additional protective measure to the combination of fume exposure control measures already in place. The vaccine is optional for employees, they should not be pressurised into having it, or discriminated against if they choose not to.

Enforcement

Vaccination is not a regulatory requirement. Enforcement action will not be taken against employers who have made the decision not to implement a vaccination programme based on a suitable and sufficient COSHH risk assessment and can demonstrate that fume exposure is effectively controlled.

For the full HSE article please click the link.

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