Summary of results - large metalworking fluid user project 05-06
HSE carried out a national project in 2005/2006 to reduce the risk of respiratory illness from exposure to metal working fluids (MWFs) at large users. Large users were defined as organisations using more than 1000 litres of concentrate or neat oil per annum. Questionnaires, designed to explore MWF management, were sent to 164 organisations and 116 (71%) were returned. HSE inspectors visited 43 companies and improvement notices (IN) were served on 11 of them. The INs required suitable and sufficient assessment of the health risks associated with MWF exposure. The project revealed that:
- 51% of respondents routinely checked water-mix MWFs for bacteria,
- The provision of suitable health surveillance for dermatitis and occupational asthma was patchy. The questionnaire indicated good provision in 50% of respondents,
- More was done to control skin exposure than inhalation exposure.
- The bad practice of blowing excess MWF off machined components using compressed air was widespread.
- Examples of adjusting MWF flow rates to avoid overheating while minimising mist and splashes were very rare.
- Sump cleaning regimes were highly variable.
- Employees were generally unaware of the potential health effects associated with MWF exposure.
- There was consistent evidence that grinding operations were associated with relatively high exposure.
- Eating next to machining activities was not widespread. Drinking was fairly common.