HSE inspections planned May to September 2021
The HSE have released a bulletin confirming their plan to inspect premises that use Metalworking Fluids (MWF) from May to September 2021.
Exposure to MWF via inhaled mist can cause occupational asthma and hypersensitivity pneumonitis. Skin exposure can cause skin irritation and dermatitis. Health surveillance for skin and lung disease should be provided where there is a reasonable likelihood of disease occurring in the workplace.
There is no known safe level of exposure to MWF and levels must be reduced to as low as reasonably practicable (ALARP) via the use of control measures to reduce employee exposure and correct maintenance and testing of MWF.
Staff will need to be provided with instruction and training regarding implementing control measures and techniques to reduce MWF exposure.
How can duty-holders ensure they are compliant?
All duty-holders who use MWF must ensure effective engineering controls (e.g., LEV, barriers) are provided, correctly used, suitably maintained, and reviewed regularly. The use of compressed air should be avoided, or exposure minimised e.g., using an extracted booth and reducing air pressure.
Suitable control measures for high-speed machines that use MWF include the use of engineering controls such as local exhaust ventilation (LEV) which has undergone statutory testing (TExT), and time delays on the opening of doors that are programmed into machine cycles to avoid reliance on the operator.
MWF maintenance checks should include; MWF odour, appearance, pH, and concentration, operating temperatures, tramp oil, circulation and flow, metal swarf and fines, microbial growth, and appropriate use of biocides.
Qualitative assessments, air monitoring surveys, fluid monitoring and TExT by an occupational hygienist can help to determine how effective your control measures are, helping you to protect your workforce and remain compliant.