Its current programme of inspections will review health and safety standards across the country, and businesses are being encouraged to visit HSE’s revised guidance to remind themselves of the changes to control expectations.

The inspections follow a safety alert that was issued in February 2019 after new evidence from the International Agency for Research on Cancer showed exposure to mild steel welding fume can cause cancer.

To protect the health of workers, employers must ensure that adequate controls are in place to avoid or reduce exposure to welding fume, the national regulator for workplace health and safety says. It adds that that employers should be using local exhaust ventilation where effective and provide suitable respiratory protective equipment where necessary to protect workers in the metal fabrication industry from inhaling fumes.

John Rowe, head of manufacturing at HSE, says: “Employers and workers should know the risk, plan their work and use the right controls when welding activity is carried out. If they are not, HSE will use enforcement to bring about improvements.

“It is our mission that all workers are protected and are not made ill or killed by their work. Everyone should be able to leave work and go home healthy and safe.”