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Metalworking Fluids

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Evaluating Exposure

Basic options to control hazards from metalworking fluids (MWFs) include the following:

  • Obtain Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) from the supplier to know what precautions are recommended.
  • Choose MWFs with the least toxic materials when possible.
  • Maintain proper use of biocides.
  • Keep machines clean and change MWFs as necessary.
  • Use properly designed MWF delivery systems which minimize the amount of fluid mist generated.
  • Some machines require a cooling system for the metalworking fluid. Use cutting machine coolant with a visual coolant filling point and level indicator. The coolant capacity should be suitable for the correct function of the machine tool.
  • Use splash guards to prevent unnecessary spray and splashing.
  • Minimize the number of pipework bends and kinks.
  • Use nozzles that optimize coolant distribution.
  • Use exhaust and local exhaust ventilation to prevent accumulation and recirculation of airborne contaminants.
  • Use proper personal protective equipment (PPE) if engineering controls are not adequate. Employees using PPE must be trained to follow all OSHA PPE requirements.
  • Ensure employees are aware of and promptly report skin or chest symptoms which may be related to MWFs.

The following resources contain information to help evaluate and control MWF exposures. MWF exposures are measured either as mineral oil mist or nuisance dust. Sampling information and appropriate analytical methods include:

  • Workplace Survey Reports. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
    • In-Depth Survey Report: Characterization of Metalworking Mists During the Evaluation of a Commercial Air Cleaner. Report No. ECTB 218-13a, (July 1997).
    • In-Depth Survey Report: Concentration of Metalworking Mists Before and After Installation of a Commercial Air Cleaner. Report No. ECTB 218-12a, (July 25, 1997).
    • In-Depth Survey Report: Characterization of Metalworking Mists During the Evaluation of a Commercial Air Cleaner. Report No. ECTB 218-11a, (April 25, 1996).
  • OSHA Technical Manual (OTM). OSHA Directive TED 01-00-015 [TED 1-0.15A], (February 11, 2014).
Sampling and Analysis

OSHA

For additional information, see OSHA's Sampling and Analysis Safety and Health Topics Page.

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

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