Many Employees work in environments which place them at a greater risk for occupational injuries and occupational disease. One of the occupations that have a unique risk for cancer is the Welding Trade. For those individuals who work in that Trade, it is important for them to know about the particular medical conditions that may arise as a result of their employment.
In event that they succumb to those conditions, it is important for Welders to know that they can claim workers’ compensation benefits for diseases which arise from their trade. Workers’ Compensation benefits allow for the Injured Worker to claim medical treatment and compensation. This would include payment for cancer treatment.
There is considerable research that been done with respect to health risks involving the Welding Trade. There are two articles of import. One article referred to in this article is Carcinogenicity of welding, molybdenum trioxide, and indium tin oxide, Guha, Loomis Guyton Grosse El Ghissassi, Bouvard et al , Published Online April 10, 2017 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/ S1470-2045(17)30255-3. Another article referenced is Cancer Risks among Welders and Occasional Welders in a National Population-Based Cohort Study: Canadian Census Health and Environmental Cohort, MacLeod, Harris, Tjepkema, Peter and Demers, Saf Health Work. 2017 Sep; 8(3): 258–266. Published online 2017 Jan 12. doi: 10.1016/j.shaw.2016.12.001 PMCID: PMC5605892 PMID: 28951802
What is the Welding Trade?
The Trade of Welding involves taking two pieces of metal and melting together into one piece. The welding process is used for many purposes including construction and fabrication. There are many forms of welding. These include Shielded Metal Arc Welding, Gas Metal Arc Welding, Flux Cored Arc Welding, and Gas Tungsten Gas Welding. As a result of the fact that there are different processes of welding, there are unique health risks to each type of welding processes.
What Types of Exposures Do Welders have that make them at risk for Cancer?
Per the article Carcinogenicity, “[w]elding can involve exposures to fumes, gases, radiation (ultraviolet [UV] radiation and electromagnetic fields) and coexposures to asbestos and solvents.”
When evaluating industrial causation for a Welder, an investigation will be done with respect to the nature of the exposure that the Welder had in the workplace. This will include the processes employed, the materials welded, the ventilation, and the degree of exposure and the level of personal protection. Supra.
In the article, Cancer Risks, it is noted that occupational welders were at a lower risk of cancer than primary welders. Further, primary welders are at a greater risk for bladder and kidney cancer. Occasional welders, however, at not. See Cancer Risks.
Is there an Association of Welding to Cancer?
Per the IARC, in the Article Carcinogenicity, it is noted that “ In the present evaluation, welding fumes and UV radiation from welding were classified as “carcinogenic to humans” (Group 1).”
Can Welding Have an Impact on Cancer to the Eyes?
Yes. Welding can bring rise to Ocular Melanoma. Ocular Melanoma is the most primary cancer in the eye. It is serious in that it is a malignant tumor that can grow and spread to other parts of the body.
Per Carcinogenicity, “Arc welding generates UV radiation, a risk factor for the rare cancer ocular melanoma. “Further, there was “Sufficient evidence for the carcinogenicity of UV radiation from welding came from eight partly overlapping case-control studies and two census-based cohort studies that reported on ocular melanoma.
Most case-control studies showed positive associations, with risks of developing ocular melanoma generally increased by between two-fold and ten-fold. Two of three studies that assessed risk by duration of employment as a welder showed positive trends.3,4 These studies also showed increased ocular melanoma risk associated with eye burns—a proxy for UV exposure— and one reported a positive exposure-response association for cumulative occupational exposure to artificial UV radiation, including welding.3,4 Risks persisted after adjustment for sun exposure, sunbed use, or both.4–6”
Can Welding Have an Impact on Lung Cancer?
Yes. Welding can bring rise to Lung Cancer. Lung Cancer generally comes in three forms. There Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer which is the most common type of lung cancer; there is Small Cell Lung Cancer; and Lung Carcinoid Tumor.
Per the Carcinogenicity, “20 case-control studies and nearly 30 occupational or population-based cohort studies, reported increased risks of lung cancer in welders or other workers exposed to welding fumes. Exposure-response associations with indices of longer or greater cumulative exposure to welding fumes were also reported in several studies, some of which were large, high-quality studies.”
Can Welding Have an Impact on Kidney Cancer?
Possibly. There is the possibility that Kidney Cancer may be associated with Welders. There may be, however, some additional risk with that is associated with some of the solvents that are used in tandem with the welding process. Kidney Cancer, also known as Renal Cancer, is one of the ten most common cancers in both men and women.
Kidney cancer is cancer that starts in the kidneys. Cancer starts when cells in the body begin to grow out of control. Cells in nearly any part of the body can become cancer and can spread to other areas.
Per Carcinogenicity, “Positive associations for occupation as a welder and kidney cancer were reported in nearly all relevant cohort and case-control studies. However, few studies adjusted for solvents used for cleaning metal in tandem with welding, such as trichloroethylene (a risk factor for kidney cancer.)” The association is not as strong as for other forms of cancer. A similar opinion was noted in the article Cancer Risks among Welders and Occasional Welders in a National Population-Based Cohort Study: Canadian Census Health and Environmental Cohort.
Per Cancer Risks, “Kidney cancer risk similarly appeared elevated for all industry groups for welders except for transport vehicle manufacturing where too few cases were detected for analysis. The highest risk was observed for welders in the shipbuilding and repair industry, representing a 3.5-fold increased risk when compared to non-welders.”
Can Welding Have an Impact on Bladder Cancer?
Possibly. Bladder Cancer is when the cells that make up the urinary bladder start to grow out of control. Eventually, they can grow and can form a tumor. Further, it can spread to other parts of the body.
Per the Cancer Risks article, Bladder cancer risk appeared elevated for all industry groups. Welders employed in manufacturing of machines, equipment, and appliances, had an almost twofold risk compared to non-welders.
Per the Cancer Risks article, Welders in their “study were at a 30% increased risk of kidney cancer, which was also observed among Nordic welders by Pukkala et al  [Standardized Incidence Ratio (SIR): 1.25, 95% CI: 1.14–1.36]. However, there is no established link between welding fumes and kidney cancer.”
If I Believe that I have Cancer Related to My Welding Trade What Should I Do?
First, it is strongly recommended that you get a consult with a physician and start getting appropriate treatment. If there is a Cancer diagnosis, it is recommended that you consider submitting into your employer a claim form for workers’ compensation benefits. Also, a consultation with an attorney may be indicated.
What If I Need Advice?
If you would like a free consultation regarding your workers’ compensation claim, please contact the Law Offices of Edward J. Singer, a Professional Law Corporation. They have been helping people in Central and Southern California deal with their worker’s compensation cases for 26 years. Contact us today for more information.