October 5, 2020
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Various fluids can be used to provide lubrication and cooling when machining or shaping metal objects they may be applied in a number of ways including continuous jets or sprays of fluid or by hand dispensers.

Exposure to these fluids can cause adverse health effects including dermatitis and irritation of the skin from direct contact with the fluid or breathing problems such as occupational asthma and irritation of the respiratory tract from breathing in the mists generated by the process.

In 2018, with support from the HSE the United Kingdom Lubricants Association (UKLA) Metalworking Fluid Product Stewardship Group (MWFPSG), published a “Good Practice Guide for Safe Handling and Disposal of Metalworking Fluids”.

This guidance has now been reviewed and an updated edition published. The update includes further advice on health surveillance and acting on dipslide results. The revised guidance can be downloaded from the UKLA website at: http://www.ukla.org.uk/metalworking-fluid-product-stewardship-group/mwf-psg-publications/

If you use metalworking fluids in your processes it is important that you assess and control the risks. Some common controls include:
• Taking action to minimise skin contact e.g. with splash guards, wearing gloves if suitable for the process being carried out (gloves can introduce additional hazards if worn near rotating machinery), not putting bare hands into fluid sumps, etc
• Managing the quality of the fluids and taking action to control bacteriological contamination
• Preventing or controlling airborne mists e.g. by using local exhaust ventilation

Please speak to your normal PIB Risk management contact or get in touch using [email protected] if you have any questions about controlling substances which may be hazardous to health.