Health topics in the molten metal industries

Hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS)

Hand-arm vibration comes from the use of hand-held power tools and is the cause of significant ill health, painful and disabling disorders of the blood vessels, nerves and joints. Collectively these health complaints are known as Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome – HAVS.  HAVS is serious with almost 2 million people in the workplace at risk.

There are many processes within foundries where hand arm vibration occurs and your employees will be at risk of suffering HAVS.  The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations require employers to prevent or reduce risks to health and safety from exposure to vibration at work.

Further information on how to reduce the risk of HAVS in the foundry industry can be found on the Hand-arm vibration in foundries web pages.

Manual handling

Manual handling is one of the most common causes of injury at work and causes over a third of all workplace injuries which include work related Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) such as upper and lower limb pain/disorders, joint and repetitive strain injuries of various. 

Manual handling injuries accounted for almost a quarter of all of the injuries in the molten metal industries in 2010-2011.

Manual handling risk assessment tools

The HSE have developed a number of tools that can help you assess manual handling operations. The tools can help you assess lifting and handling tasks (MAC tool), repetitive tasks (ART tool) and pushing and pulling tasks.

Dust and fume


Dust from sand, fettling and kiln relining contains silica and, when dry, this produces dust known as respirable crystalline silica (RCS). Inhaling RCS can cause silicosis. Silicosis is a serious and irreversible lung disease that causes permanent disablement and early death.


Molten metal fume (foundry fume) is hazardous to health. Ferrous foundry fume can cause lung cancer. Other foundry fume and spray mists can cause lung diseases including asthma.

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 2002 require that you protect workers from the hazards of dust and fume.

Help with identifying the right control measures to protect workers is available on the COSHH essentials web tool. Control information for dust and fumes in Foundries is contained in a number of COSHH essentials guidance sheets.

Further information

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Updated 2022-05-22