Not to over-dramatize things, the company I work for is ridiculously tight on spending for a large company. My job requires me to do a lot of soldering (hardware engineer) and I have asked for a fume extractor costing $50, and im being ignored and treated like im buying unnecessary equipment. I've been told 'buy yourself a usb fan or something'.

I have made the requisition, all he has to do is approve it and at this point, I must have asked him 5-6 times over the past 4 weeks and all I get is 'ask me next week I'm busy' and I have basically been soldering 20% of my time the last 4 weeks which is a lot of hours and I think it's not healthy with this lead-free horrible stuff.

What should I do? Bite the bullet and buy one myself? I feel like im going to cause myself hassle by being firm with my manager or getting other departments involved or to buy one for me. I actually like the company but the saving money to this point actually stresses me out - if we cant buy a $50 exractor in our R and D department, you can imagine what other areas of spending are like.

Extra information: Farnell talks about it here and on their second page describes some legal things such as CHOSHH - Again not sure where I stand on all this but it's clearly not healthy to breath long term https://uk.farnell.com/essential-considerations-for-managing-soldering-fume-extraction

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    Don't you use a facemask when soldering? Or at least those things that cove ryour mouth and nose? To whom have you asked for the extractor?
    – DarkCygnus
    Feb 21, 2020 at 19:37
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    I have nothing but a soldering iron, a soldering camera (which I bought myself for small components) and lead-free solder. And I asked our project manager and head of department which are responsible for all the budget/approvals. Feb 21, 2020 at 19:41
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    Which country as it could be H&S or OSHA etc...
    – Solar Mike
    Feb 21, 2020 at 19:56
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    @sidA30 Did they use the "I don't have time now" excuse every time you asked? Is there some sort of HR / health&safety department or contact? Is there a way to hold off on all soldering activities for a couple of days or even weeks?
    – Lilienthal
    Feb 21, 2020 at 20:47

2 Answers 2


It depends on your country. The link you posted is to the UK site for Farnell. In the UK and US an employer is legally responsible for providing personal protective equipment (PPE).

A step you can take is an official letter the head of your company, with a copy to your manager, asking for them to provide the previously requested (adequate) PPE, specifically mention a fume extractor.

I don't know about the US, but in the UK you have the following right:

  • to stop work and leave your work area, without being disciplined if you have reasonable concerns about your safety

So if you are in the UK, refuse to do any more soldering until the equipment is provided. Your manager can't give you any discipline or hassle for it, or you can report them for that.

I understand not wanting to cause any hassle but what's more important. Your health and safety, or staying quiet because you're afraid of standing up to your manager.


Extreme options: Go to your doctor, tell him that you feel this itching in the throat and have some reflex cough (if that is a lie of not is up to your mindset) always after soldering for several hours.

After a week write to HR: I visited my doctor to discuss my symptoms related to inhaling solder fumes at work and the medication he prescribed did not make the symptoms better.

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