Metalworking fluids can be very dangerous not properly controlled in the workplace. During use, they are prone to developing dangerous levels of bacteria, if spores are inhaled, they can have an adverse effect on human health, causing short and long-term health conditions.
At Auto Extract Systems, we offer a wide variety of different Oil Mist Filtration solutions for a wide variety of industries and sectors, including the automotive industry and metalworking industries.
What Do The HSE Recommend About Metalworking Fluids?
According to the HSE’s MW1 – CNC Machining with Metalworking Fluids guidance, it states businesses should: “Provide local exhaust ventilation (LEV) to the enclosure. This can either be as a standalone unit or a centralised system linking two or more machines.”
Going through the hierarchy of control as part of broader COSHH assessment:
- Engineering Controls, for example, LEV systems;
- Administration Controls;
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should always be the best method of managing the risks.
According to the HSE’s (Health and Safety Executive) Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 2002, an airborne contaminant, such as a mist can come into contact with the skin or other body membranes, such as the lungs which can result in a serious health risk.
The legal requirements require employers to complete regular COSHH risk assessments. Regulation 7 requires employers to make all conscious efforts to follow the COSHH hierarchical approach (listed above).
COSHH regulations place the duty of care on employers to ensure employees (and other people in the workplace) who may be exposed to specific substances are protected. To find out more about the necessary steps to take to ensure your workplace complies with the COSHH Regulations, read our article, The 7 Essential Elements of COSHH [Infographic].
Metalworking Fluid Bacterial Contamination
Metalworking fluids (MWF) that contain water, or water-mixes can become highly contaminated with harmful levels of bacteria. Metalworking fluids should be subject to regular monitoring and sampling.
To comply with the HSE’s COSHH regulations the HSE recommends completing metalworking fluid sampling. Using a dip slide, you can assess the fungi and bacterial contamination levels the quality of the metalworking fluid, its concentration and pH levels. Find out more in the HSE’s MW5 – Managing Fluid Quality. This documents also provides a dip slide record example graph used to document and monitor changes in bacterial count.
Bacterial contamination affects the quality of metalworking fluids, reducing the quality which can lead to substantial health risks for employees and users that come into contact with the fluids. In the HSE’s emerging lessons case study: Outbreak of Respiratory Disease at Powertrain Ltd, Longbridge, Birmingham, 101 probable cases of respiratory disease were diagnosed.
The outbreak significantly changed the perception of the risk of respiratory disease arising from the use of water, mixed metalworking and water-based wash fluids. The common risk factor in all 101 cases was from the inhalation of harmful bacteria in metalworking and wash fluids, from mist generated by metalworking and subsequent washing.
HSE Metalworking Fluids Inspections
Earlier in 2021, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) announced they are inspecting metal fabrication businesses across Great Britain to check that they are managing the respiratory risks of welding fumes and metalworking fluids. Read the HSE’s full press release.
In HSE’s latest Health and Safety at Work: Summary Statistics for Great Britain 2020, it was estimated that 12,000 people died from lung diseases that were linked to past exposure, from work in a range of sectors.
HSE’s inspectors will be looking for evidence that employers and workers know the risks and are, planning their work using the right controls to protect workers’ health. The HSE has also added that they’ll enforce measures use their ‘Fee For Intervention’ enforcement scheme to make sure workers are protected. Find out more about the FFI scheme in our article, Fee for Intervention (FFI) Explained.
In our article, Engineering Company Fined for Metalworking Fluid Exposure, an engineering company that works in the automotive sector company was sentenced and fined in May 2021 after an employee developed an allergic form of dermatitis after being exposed and coming into contact with metalworking fluids.
The company pleaded guilty to breaching section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. As a result, they were fined £100,000.00 and ordered to pay costs of £639.59.
Request a FREE LEV Site Assessment
We’ll call to arrange a convenient time and date to visit your site. We’ll analyse your working processes, assess the substances used and the contaminants generated. We’ll work out how best to control the dust and fume in a way that’s in line with your COSHH risk assessment. Next, we’ll design you a comprehensive LEV system that adheres to HSG258 guidance and send this you to via email.
We’ll do all this to ensure we fully understand your dust and fume extraction requirements and help you to provide a pollution-free workplace!
This is an amazing service we do for thousands of businesses throughout the UK and Ireland every year. We work with such a wide variety of industries, from manufacturing, industrial, woodworking, pharmaceutical and automotive workshops to schools, colleges and military establishments.
Request your FREE, no-obligation LEV site assessment today!
Controlling The Risk to Health Of Employees
It is essential that metalworking fluids are inspected and maintained for a healthy and pollution-free working environment for all stakeholders that enter the business. If inhaled, the spray and mist created from machines by workers can cause respiratory infection and other problems related to the respiratory tract.
Exposure to metalworking fluids can cause a range of lung diseases, including occupational asthma and occupational hypersensitivity pneumonitis (OHP), which are debilitating diseases with life-changing impacts. In addition, if metalworking fluids come in skin contact too, it can cause conditions such as Dermatitis
Learn more about the severity of Metalworking Fluid Health Risks on the HSE’s website.
Checklist – How to Choose a Local Exhaust Ventilation System Supplier
If you’re in the market for a new Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) system, it can be a tough decision to decide which is the best LEV solutions provider to choose. We want to help, so we’ve assembled this checklist (and article) to help you select the right LEV supplier for your business and requirements. Whether you’ve got a dust, fume, vapour, gases or mist problem in your workplace, as an employer, you are required by law to protect your employees from exposure to the contaminant.
Why Choose Auto Extract Systems?
Auto Extract Systems is the UK’s leading LEV company. Over the last 20 years, we’ve helped thousands of businesses create pollution-free workplaces, and avoid a costly fee for intervention fines.
We are experts in all things LEV, we can help your business become COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) Regulation 2002 compliant with a tailored LEV solution. We provide comprehensive design, installation, maintenance and certification services across a range of industry sectors. Find out more about us here.