Metalworking Fluids – New HSE Expectations

In a previous article we discussed methods to assist in the control of health effects arising from the use of metalworking fluids (MWFs). These health effects include occupational lung disease which is to be targeted by HSE during the coming year. In this article we provide an update of recent developments.

New guidance has been issued jointly by the HSE and the United Kingdom Lubricants Association (UKLA). This guidance is essential reading for those using metalworking fluids as it contains information on methodologies for maintenance and monitoring. However, the comments in the guidance about Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) are of particular interest.

The guidance states that “It is of paramount importance to provide adequate LEV to remove MWF mist from machine enclosures”. We are aware that HSE inspectors have issued Fees For Intervention notices where systems using metalworking fluids have been used without extraction – even when air sampling has shown results below the 0.5 mg/m3 limit discussed in our previous article. As working without LEV is apparently considered a Material Breach, at least by some inspectors, all risk assessments relating to MWFs should be reviewed in relation to the new guidance.

For further information, including advice or assistance, please contact Safety Management’s Occupational Hygiene expert, Dr Graham Newport.

Staying in the loop