Exposure to metalworking fluids can cause harm to lungs and skin. Health surveillance aims to detect any symptoms of ill health caused by work as early as possible.
HSE will be inspecting manufacturing businesses that use metalworking fluids or ‘white water’ in their machining processes until March 2024.
Occupational Hygiene Statistics from HSE
- an estimated 12,000 people died from lung diseases linked to exposure to hazardous substances at work
- an estimated 19,000 new cases of breathing and lung problems thought to be caused or made worse by work
- the manufacturing industry has a substantially higher rate than average for occupational asthma
- metalworking machine operatives have much higher dermatitis rates than many of the major groupings of occupations
What the law requires
Not providing regular health surveillance is one of the common reasons that manufacturing companies fail to demonstrate compliance, particularly smaller companies. Health surveillance is a scheme of repeated health checks which are used to identify ill health caused by work.
Where there is exposure to fluid or mist, it is a legal requirement to carry out health surveillance even when preventative controls, such as fluid quality checks and local exhaust ventilation (LEV), are in place.
If you work in an industry that is prone to regular exposure to a variety of harmful substances such as chemicals, fumes, dusts and fibres, you are required to comply with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations to provide safe working environments for your employees.
Exposure to metalworking fluids can cause harm to lungs and skin through inhalation or direct contact with unprotected skin; particularly hands, forearms and face. Breathing in the mist generated by machining can lead to lung diseases such as occupational asthma and occupational hypersensitivity pneumonitis.
HSE Inspections Until March 2024
Inspectors are focusing on how employers ensure workers are protected from exposure to fluid or mist generated by computer numerical control (CNC) machines and that regular health checks are in place.
There are three areas where manufacturing companies, particularly smaller companies, commonly fall down on compliance:
- Not having local exhaust ventilation
- Not completing regular fluid quality checks
- Failing to provide regular health checks for lung and skin conditions.
How can Safety First Help?
To reduce exposure, you need control measures in place, working with qualified and certified providers like ourselves, you can rest assured you are protecting employees and complying with the law.
INSTALL LOCAL EXHAUST VENTILATION (LEV)
The mist produced during machining is harmful to workers health when inhaled. LEV should be fitted to CNC machines where operators are exposed to mist.
If you don’t have LEV talk to our experienced team and we can offer you advice and help your business comply with the law and protect your employees, learn more here: Local Exhaust Ventilation Systems (LEV)
OCCUPATIONAL EXPOSURE MONITORING
Exposure monitoring is needed for work with harmful substances, such as asbestos and lead may also be required as part of the COSHH risk assessments. Our specialist team is highly qualified in the different methods of monitoring exposure. No matter how complex the issue, Safety First can find the right sampling strategy for you.
We are experienced in delivering a complete range of occupational exposure monitoring services to provide you with confirmation that your control measures are adequate and workplace exposure limits are not exceeded.
REGULAR HEALTH CHECKS
Health and safety law requires that employers have a health surveillance scheme in place when workers remain exposed to certain health risks, even after controls are in place. This is because control measures may not always be reliable, despite appropriate checking, training and maintenance.
We will help you develop your health surveillance scheme of regular checks and can train responsible persons to help deliver this where appropriate. View the Safety First Occupational Health Surveillance page https://www.safetyfirstgroup.co.uk/services/occupational-health-surveillance/
Sources Used found here: workright.campaign.gov.uk