YOUNG WELDER’S DECLINE SENDS WARNING

A case study has highlighted the importance of monitoring workers' health, providing appropriate protective equipment (including respiratory protection), and complying with safety regulations to minimise risks associated with welding fumes.

A young welder in his mid-20s, with a history of forgetfulness and declining mental function, was diagnosed with manganism (a condition caused by prolonged exposure to manganese-containing fumes and dust from welding).

Despite regular medical check-ups that didn't reveal the cause of his symptoms, high levels of manganese were detected during a pre-employment screening for a new welding job in Ankara, Turkey.

The worker's symptoms, including memory issues and reasoning disorders, improved significantly after he started a new job with proper ventilation and respiratory protection.

Off the back of extensive lobbying from the AMWU and other Unions, Safe Work Australia recommended reducing our workplace exposure limit for welding fumes from 5 mg/m³ to 1 mg/m³.

This was implemented in late 2023.

Symptoms of manganism can appear after just three months of exposure and include memory problems, anxiety, hallucinations, and can progress to more severe motor and cognitive issues if not addressed early.

Manganism is reversible if treated early but can become irreversible in advanced stages, underscoring the importance of early detection and proper safety measures in workplaces where manganese exposure is a risk.

Review the case study here

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