Exposure to metalworking fluids can cause; irritation of the skin/dermatitis, occupational asthma, bronchitis, irritation of the upper respiratory tract, breathing difficulties or, rarely, a more serious lung disease called extrinsic allergic alveolitis (EAA).
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.
To achieve the necessary control and risk reduction, among other actions, you will need to:
The use of compressed air to remove swarf, dust and fluids from machined components presents a number of risks to both the health and safety of those involved.
There is a risk of compressed air entering the operator's bloodstream, which can result in death.
Eye injury including blindness can occur if dust particles or swarf bounce back at the operator.
Droplets of metalworking fluid can be absorbed by operator clothing and eventually reach the skin. This can result in dermatitis, especially on the hands and arms lower torso.
Photo showing MWF on clothing of worker using compressed air to clean machined components
The use of compressed air may also increase metalworking fluid mist levels in the area around the machine. Metalworking fluid mist is a known cause of respiratory ill health including asthma.
Noise levels are normally high and there is a significant risk of permanent hearing damage from prolonged exposure. Hearing loss can never be restored.
A number of precautions can be taken to reduce the risks and should form part of the risk assessment required for this activity: