Prevent Worker Exposure to Metalworking Fluids

protective clothing

protective clothingIt is well now that there are risks associated with coming into contact with metalworking fluids. There are however still companies who do not protect their workers from developing serious health problems associated with the substance. It is important to take the necessary steps to make sure your company is not one of them.

Firstly conduct a risk assessment across all machines and processes to identify where exposure could occur for your workers. Communicate the identified risks to workers and teach them how to use the precautions you put in place, such as the provision of personal protective equipment (PPE).

You should take action to minimise skin exposure. This includes preventing skin coming into contact with the substance when using or moving parts/tool pieces, or when undertaking maintenance, by wearing suitable gloves and using face shields.

It is also important to prevent mists of metalworking fluid from entering the workspace. Enclose machinery operations to reduce the likelihood of mists escaping, and ensure that extraction is used to control them at source. Make sure there is a time delay on machine doors so that no one can open them before the extraction has fully finished.

Introduce health surveillance for workers where exposure cannot be prevented. For skin, this should involve regular skin checks by a suitably trained person, and for breathing, at least an annual health questionnaire in the first instance.

Control bacterial contamination within the fluid, as this can cause irritation of the respiratory tract. Microbiological dip slides can be used to test the fluid for this purpose. Regularly check your metalworking fluids to ensure sump oil is not dirty or smelly, as this could indicate a problem that needs resolving.

If you require more information Walker Health and Safety Services can help, visit

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