A new case of welder’s anthrax has been highlighted by the CDC in a recent report jointly issued with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Although the risk of anthrax is low , the construction industry in particular needs to be aware of the potential.
What is welder’s anthrax?
Anthrax is clinically defined as a type of pneumonia that is predominantly found in people who work with animals. However, recently there have been cases of anthrax in metal workers. This has raised some concerns over the way that this is currently being managed in the metalwork industry.
The pneumonia contains bacteria that produces the anthrax toxin which in some cases can be fatal. As this disease is newly identified for metal workers, more needs to be done to raise awareness of the potential for contracting this disease in occupational settings.
Since 1997 there have only been 7 reported cases of welder’s anthrax, but this now seems to be on the rise. 99% of those cases involved workers with the title ‘welder’, while the other 1% had the job title of ‘metal worker’.
Yet despite these findings, it is widely believed that anthrax is only passed from animals to humans which makes the risk to construction workers low. However, the risk for other industries like farming and agriculture the risk still remains somewhat higher.
Despite this disease being less well known, it doesn’t make it any less dangerous or any less real. There are measures and controls you can take to protect your metalworker’s exposure to fumes and particles that can lead to this bacteria being contracted.
Occupational exposure monitoring for welders
It is well known that regular workplace exposure monitoring helps to decrease health risks to your employees. The management and control of chemicals, fumes, dusts and fibres is an essential part of your legal responsibilities as employers, not only to safeguard them, but to also protect yourselves against fines from the HSE.
At Safety First we can assist with your workplace hierarchy of control, which aims to provide you with the confirmation that your control measures are adequate, and workplace exposure limits are not exceeded which directly contribute to your overall compliance.
You will also need to demonstrate that the risk for welders anthrax has properly been assessed. This is because it is known that anthrax thrives in iron rich matter which can be found in the working environment.
If you have never thought about, or heard about welders anthrax you can have a no obligation chat with one of our qualified technicians. This gives you the opportunity to highlight your concerns and for us to formulate a strategy for assessment, measurement and control to ensure full compliance with the UK health and safety regulations and COSHH.
Got more questions? You can fill out the contact form here or give us a call so that we can get you started!