How to work safely with metalworking fluids

Metalworking fluids

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is inspecting businesses across the UK to check that they’re managing the risks of metalworking fluids. Health & Safety inspectors are targeting businesses whose workers use metalworking fluids to check that they’re complying with the metalworking fluid guidance. 

During HSE visits, you’ll need to demonstrate you have measures in place to manage risks and protect your workers from the hazards associated with metalworking fluids. Risks can come from inhalation, skin contact and ingestion.  

To help you manage these risks and pass HSE inspections, our Health & Safety experts have summarised the key questions you need to be asking to check you’re compliant.  


How can I manage the risks of metalworking fluids? 

Have you reviewed your CoSHH (Control of Substance Hazardous to Health) assessments and risk assessments?  

Your CoSHH and risk assessments should be up to date to address the management of metalworking fluids and reduce risk of exposure.  

Do you monitor metalworking fluid quality?  

You should monitor and maintain the quality of metalworking fluids – are you using the correct mix of fluids and monitoring things like the pH level and bacteria? 

Do you know how to control metalworking fluid mist? 

This needs to be reduced to as low as is reasonably practicable. Have you got appropriate Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) in place?  

Have you introduced a time delay to your machinery? 

Operatives are exposed when they open the door immediately after machining has stopped and/or lean into the enclosure. Can you introduce measures such as delays, timers or dust lamps and smoke generators? 

Do you avoid using compressed air? 

Where practicable, avoid the use of compressed air – e.g., blowing down wet components, wet machinery, or filled cut-outs – and use alternatives instead.  

Do you provide skin exposure controls? 

If a machine is not enclosed, you need to provide splash guards and use tools instead of people using their hands. Have you included PPE, such as single-use nitrile gloves or face shields in your risk assessments?  

Do you have an effective health surveillance system in place?  

You should have a suitable and sufficient health surveillance system to monitor the health of your employees. For metalworking fluid, check for dermatitis and respiratory problems. 


How Citation can help  

Are you confident that you’re working safely with metalworking fluids? Have you checked that you’re covering everything you need to in case an inspector knocks on your door? 

Our Health & Safety experts are available 24/7 to help you with this and any other Health & Safety concerns affecting your business. Compliance isn’t always easy and keeping up to date with the latest in Health & Safety legislation and guidance can be time-consuming and complicated. 

That’s where we come in. Our clients benefit from access to our advice line, policy and risk assessment support, training, on-site Health & Safety, and much more. We take the pressure off your hands, ensuring your business stays compliant and your people stay safe.  

If you’re interested in working with us, call 0345 844 111 to speak to our team and find out more.

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