COSHH and engineering workers - key messages

Substances hazardous to health in engineering include:

  • dusts from mechanical cutting, shaping and abrasive blasting;
  • gases and fumes from welding, soldering, and cutting;
  • mists and germs in metalworking fluids;
  • lubricants, adhesives, paints, degreasing and stripping fluids;
  • plating and pickling fluids, and molten salt baths;
  • fluid treatment products.

Control measures include:

  • dust, fume or vapour extraction;
  • respirators;
  • fluid maintenance;
  • skin checks.

You may need to use health surveillance (Check employees health for any adverse effects related to work. May involve checking skin for dermatitis or asking questions about breathing and may need to done by a doctor or nurse.)

Example: metalworking fluids (MWF)

MWF can cause dermatitis or other skin diseases.

Mists from poorly managed water-mix MWF can cause occupational asthma.

Help with identifying the right control is on the Metalworking web site. Control information for MWF appears in the following information sheets available from the COSHH essentials web tool:

Visit the metalworking eCOSHH web pages for more information and the HSE homepage for other engineering activities.


Your employer provides equipment to protect your health, such as:

  • extraction of dust, fumes or mist;
  • control of bacteria and fines in cutting fluids;
  • personal protective equipment.

You have a duty to use these properly and co-operate with any monitoring and health surveillance.

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