Monitoring and controlling exposure to metalworking fluids

Sep. 16 2020

Bureau Veritas is urging manufacturers to take steps to monitor and control possible exposures to metalworking fluids, following the publication of a revised version of the Good Practice Guide for the Safe Handling and Disposal of Metalworking Fluids by the UK Lubricants Association (UKLA) and Health & Safety Executive (HSE).

The Guide gives advice on how to maintain metalworking fluids to prevent ill-health, as well as further advice on health surveillance and acting on dipslide results. It complements further guidance from the HSE on COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health).

Risks of exposure

Exposure to metalworking fluids can cause serious health concerns including dermatitis and breathing problems such as asthma. Although there is currently no UK Workplace Exposure Limit (WEL) assigned to metalworking fluid exposures, controlling exposure in machine workshops therefore helps to protect the health of employees in line with workplace health and safety legislation.

And to support manufacturers in meeting their obligations, the Bureau Veritas Occupational Hygiene team offers a range of services to help monitor exposures and identify control measures if needed.

Joe Marais, Occupational Hygiene Team Leader at Bureau Veritas, said: “In their enforcement guide to inspectors on metalworking fluids, the HSE have set out the principles of control that should be applied to achieve nil or negligible risk from exposure to metalworking fluids.

“At present there is no UK WEL assigned to metalworking fluid exposures, with the HSE striving to an ALARP (As Low as Reasonably Practicable) approach to control of exposure to metalworking fluid.

“A WEL of 1.0 mg/m3 was previously in place but it was withdrawn because significant numbers of ill health were being reported even below this level and it has been established that it is not possible to establish a No Observed Adverse Effect Level (NOAEL) for exposure to metalworking fluid.

“At Bureau Veritas, we take a qualitative and quantitative approach. We use the NIOSH Recommended Exposure Limit of 0.5 mg/m3 to evaluate exposure concentrations, as well as a qualitative assessment of exposure control. This supports our clients in applying the best possible measures for their individual requirements.”

Support from Occupational Hygiene specialists

Bureau Veritas offers a range of trusted and professional services for metalworking fluid exposure monitoring, including but not limited to:

  • Survey scope and design to ascertain the number of samples to be completed during a monitoring exercise
  • Workplace air monitoring to conduct exposure monitoring
  • Qualitative assessment of control measures in place, and the applicability thereof
  • Assessment of monitoring results against relevant statutory exposure limits and requirements
  • Provision of recommendations in pursuit of achieving or maintaining adequate control of exposure to metalworking fluid

Continued support to the client following the issue of a final report