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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:

Analytical Methods


OSHA has developed and validated methods for use by the Salt Lake Technical Center (SLTC) laboratory. The following method has been adopted by many laboratories for the analysis of chemical compounds. Exposures should be evaluated with standard total dust sampling techniques for comparison to the OSHA permissible exposure limits (PEL).

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

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