HSE Assesses Exposure Risks of Using Compressed Air for Removal of Metalworking Fluids

Published October 3, 2012

Workers are at a significant risk of dermal exposure to metalworking fluids (MWFs) when using compressed air to remove used MWFs from machined components and machinery in metalworking workshops, according to a recent research report funded by the U.K.’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Researchers found that there may also be a risk of breathing in mist particles resulting from the use of compressed air in the removal of MWFs in the workplace. Potential exposures to MWFs and respirable mist particles were investigated in a test chamber and then in a workplace study.

Researchers recommend the use of control systems and personal protective equipment to protect workers from dermal exposure to MWFs. The report concludes that there are techniques to minimize the risk of exposure to respirable mists when using compressed air; one example is to identify the air pressure sufficient to remove MWFs, thereby minimizing mist formation.

View the full report, “Mists created by the use of compressed airlines for the removal of metalworking fluids: Assessment of the possible exposure health risks,” as a PDF on HSE’s website.