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Breathe Freely in the Workplace

3 July 2018

Bethan Stones headshot

Bethan Stones

Group Marketing Manager

Exposure to Workplace Fumes

Exposure to workplace smoke, fumes, gases and fine particles can result in a host of respiratory diseases, known as occupational lung diseases. These conditions often result in debilitating ill-health and early mortality, and lead to around 13000 deaths per year in the UK.

Occupational lung diseases include:

  • Respiratory cancers.
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • Occupational asthma.
  • Pneumoconiosis (including asbestosis and silicosis).
  • Allergic alveolitis and allergic rhinitis.
welding fume hazards in the workplace

BOHS Breathe Freely Campaign

As a result, the British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS) established the ‘Breathe Freely’ campaign in April 2015. This initiative aims to raise awareness of workplace exposure hazards and the available health and safety precautions in the hope of protecting workers from occupational lung diseases in the UK construction industry.

This initiative was expanded in 2017 to cover the manufacturing industry, where 4000 workers every year develop breathing difficulties and lung problems that are thought to be caused or aggravated by their work.

Occupational Hazards in the Manufacturing Industry

One of the highest occupational hazards to manufacturing workers is the exposure to dust and fumes released when undertaking welding and hot cutting processes. Therefore, BOHS are focusing this phase of the initiative on these manufacturing activities.

Welding Hazards and Risk Management

When carrying out welding and other hot cutting processes, toxic gases and very fine particles are released into the air, exposing your workers to varying concentrations of metal oxides, including aluminium, copper and chromium oxides. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has identified welding as one of the top 10 causes of work related cancer and, with around 75,000 people in Britain exposed to dust caused by workplace welding activities, tackling this problem will improve thousands of lives.

As an employer, you are legally required to assess the health risks of hazardous substances used on-site and then take precautions to prevent and control employee exposure to them. To fully comply with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) regulations, you must ensure that all control measures you install are effective. One way you can do this, is monitoring your on-site air quality and demonstrating that your employees’ exposure is below the relevant Workplace Exposure Limits.


As a leading Occupational Hygiene and Health and Safety services provider, with over 20 years of experience, Envirocare offers comprehensive COSHH Air Monitoring.

Call us on 01274 738668 to discuss how we can help you and your employees breathe freely.