Ensuring a Safe Workplace with Effective Welding Fume Extraction

Welding is a fundamental process in many industries, essential for the construction and manufacturing of a vast array of products. However, it is not without its hazards. One of the most significant risks associated with welding is the inhalation of welding fumes, which can have severe health implications for workers. At Egmont Air, we understand the critical need for effective welding fume extraction solutions to ensure a safe and compliant workplace in New Zealand.


Understanding the Risks of Welding Fumes

Welding fumes are a complex mixture of metallic particles, gases, and other contaminants generated during the welding process. These fumes can contain a variety of harmful substances, including:

  • Metal oxides such as iron, manganese, and chromium.
  • Gases like ozone, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen oxides.
  • Particulates including hexavalent chromium and nickel compounds.

The smoke and fumes generated during welding processes contain high levels of oxides that swiftly spread through the workspace, facilitated by heat. These contaminants pose significant health risks, including respiratory problems and long-term lung damage. The human body cannot effectively eliminate these toxins, potentially leading to illnesses such as chemical pneumonitis, metal fume fever, pulmonary fibrosis, and lung cancer. Given these risks, effective fume extraction is not just a regulatory requirement but a moral imperative for employers.


Compliance with New Zealand Regulations

In New Zealand, workplace health and safety are governed by the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA). Under this act, employers have a duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers. This includes controlling exposure to harmful substances like welding fumes. Key points for compliance include:

  1. Risk Assessment: Employers must assess the risks associated with welding fumes and implement control measures to minimise exposure. This involves identifying hazardous substances, evaluating the level of exposure, and determining the effectiveness of existing controls.
  2. Engineering Controls: The preferred method for controlling welding fume exposure is through engineering controls. This includes local exhaust ventilation (LEV) systems, which capture fumes at the source and remove them from the work environment. At Egmont Air, we specialise in designing and installing custom LEV systems tailored to specific welding applications.
  3. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): While engineering controls are the first line of defence, PPE such as respiratory protection may also be necessary, especially in situations where fume extraction systems cannot eliminate all exposure.
  4. Monitoring and Maintenance: Regular monitoring of fume levels and maintenance of extraction systems are crucial to ensure ongoing effectiveness. This includes routine inspections, filter changes, and performance testing.
  5. Training and Education: Workers must be trained on the risks associated with welding fumes and the proper use of fume extraction equipment and PPE. Effective training programs help to ensure that safety measures are understood and consistently followed.


Fume Extraction Systems for Welding Fume Extraction In New Zealand

Fume Extraction hoods, such as the Air Zone and Evolution Arms form part of an integrated fume extraction system. Our Clean go is a compact, self contained unit capable of extracting fume and smoke, it has a full articulating arm, and is able to return clean air direct to the working area. Our Robot Hood, captures overhead fumes and is especially well suited to fast-pace welders and smoking parts. It’s able to prevent  dispersion of fumes through the workplace and has a modular design, meaning our team can design its use for multiple applications.


Welding Fume Extraction Solution, Double Hood Extraction

When we implemented a new welding fume system for Trailcom, it drastically  enhanced operator safety and air quality onsite.Trailcom had been receiving complaints from workers about air quality, and had become concerned about the ongoing health issues that welding fumes might cause. The solution, designed by our team, featured a  double-hood extraction with two articulating arms which efficiently captures fumes during welding axle assemblies. “Our systems are designed to complement the work engineers do, so that productivity increases because of the improved and safer working conditions for welders”, Cameron Prestidge (Egmont Air). For Trailcom the fume complaints ceased and they were able to provide a clean air working environment for their welders on an ongoing basis.

Ensuring a safe workplace is not just about meeting regulatory requirements—it’s about protecting the health and well-being of workers. At Egmont Air, we are committed to providing effective, reliable, and compliant welding fume extraction solutions. By partnering with us, businesses can create safer work environments, enhance productivity, and achieve peace of mind knowing they are meeting their obligations under New Zealand law.

Our team at Egmont Air have over 30 years of experience consulting on Welding Fume Extraction, and are happy to have a chat about what will best work for your business. Give Richard, Cameron or Todd a call today.