Welders and pneumonia - a jab that could save a life Welders and other workers exposed to metal fumes should receive a simple vaccination that can prevent serious lung disease and even save their lives. A new review of the evidence published recently in the scientific journal Occupational Medicine found that welders die more often from certain types of pneumonia and that they should be offered a vaccination so that a potentially fatal lung disease can be prevented.

Many employers (and welders) are unaware that exposure to welding fume can cause pneumonia. Although fatal cases are rare, they can occur. Companies need to ensure that anyone undertakes welding work or is exposed to metal fumes is offered the vaccination. They also need to advise workers how to reduce their exposure to the fumes as much as possible and encourage them to not smoke.

The review, by Professor Keith Palmer, Professor of Occupational Medicine at the University of Southampton, found evidence that welders are up to six times more likely to suffer from Pneumococcal pneumonia – a disease that usually affects those who are very young, the elderly and those with impaired immunity. For this reason, many welders and their doctors may no tknow that they are more at risk and of the need for vaccination.

The research confirms the recent advice from the Department of Health that welders should be given the vaccination. This is an important message – an inexpensive jab may save a life. There are probably between 50,000 and 70,000 welders in the UK who stand to gain. The benefit of providing vaccinations is likely to be similar to that of taking aspirin for a year to prevent a heart attack or cardiac death. At the same time, we should always remember that prevention is better than cure - vaccination is not a substitute for good control of exposure to metal fumes.

The research also highlighted how important it is to ensure that people exposed to these harmful fumes are given appropriate protective equipment (especially extraction ventilation) and follow other safety advice to minimize exposure. OHSAS can provide this simple one-off vaccination to members of your workforce, using our mobile clinic unit if necessary.

Contact us () or JLIB_HTML_CLOAKING if you would like further details, or to discuss your requirements for this or any other occupational health service.