July H&S Memo – Metalworking Fluids, Managing the Health Risks

July H&S Memo – Metalworking Fluids, Managing the Health Risks

Posted by:caragh.oneill
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The Main Health Risks from Working with Metalworking Fluids
  • Irritation of the skin or dermatitis; and
  • Occupational asthma, bronchitis, irritation of the upper respiratory tract, breathing difficulties or, rarely, a more serious lung disease called extrinsic allergic alveolitis (EAA), which can cause increasingly severe breathing difficulties in recurring episodes, following repeated exposure.

How Harm is Caused

Metalworking fluids are mostly applied by continuous jet, spray or hand dispenser and can affect your health:

  • If you inhale the mist generated during machining/shaping operations;
  • Through direct contact with unprotected skin;
  • Through cuts and abrasions or other broken skin; and
  • Through the mouth if you eat, drink or smoke in work areas, or from poor personal hygiene, e.g. not washing hands before eating.

Key Messages for Managing the Health Risks

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) requires exposure to metalworking fluids by inhalation, ingestion or skin contact to be prevented where reasonably practicable, or failing that, adequately controlled.  For further information on COSHH essentials for machining with metalworking fluids please click here.

To assess your organisation’s current management of MWF you should use the following checklist as a guide:

  • Is there provision of LEV and valid Thorough Examination and Test Report(s) where applicable?
  • Are there adequate controls in place when using compressed air e.g. enclosure, low pressure nozzles, automatic alternative to manual clean down of components?
  • Is there an adequate system in place for managing fluid quality and controlling bacterial growth in conventional water-mix MWFs e.g. dip slides, monitoring of PH and fluid concentration?
  • Is there adequate information, instruction and training provided in relation to evaluation of mist control measures?
  • Is health surveillance in place where a risk from dermal and/or inhalation exposure has been identified?
  • Is there enclosure of machining processes e.g. through guarding?
Further information can be found at: https://www.hseni.gov.uk/topic/metal-working-fluids
During October 2018, the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) will be undertaking a focused inspection campaign on manufacturing and engineering companies who are users of Metal Working Fluids (MWF) throughout NI – for further information on this initiative visit – https://www.hseni.gov.uk/news/hseni-inspection-campaign-metal-working-fluids-initiative


Quadra assumes no responsibility or liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred as a result of any use or reliance upon the information and material contained within this memorandum. Quadra has taken considerable care in preparing information and materials which is contained here however, Quadra is unable to provide any warranty concerning the accuracy or completeness of any information contained herein.

For a FREE trial of our online COSHH training course Click Here and for further information on our full portfolio of online course contact us today on [email protected] / 028 9042 3222 / 01 832 1493

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