Minimizing airborne hazards is integral to maintain a safe and productive workplace. However, metalworking employers may find it difficult to control the many physical and chemical risks involved with the job that may endanger the health and safety of their employees. As these workers often handle oil- and water-based fluids to use for metal applications – such as cutting, sawing and polishing – they face the risk of being exposed to both liquid and an airborne mist. An oil mist collector is one of the necessary engineering controls employers should implement to reduce this hazard by extracting mist and filtering out clean air in its place.
Metalworking fluids can be made from a variety of different substances, including petroleum oils and water-based fluids, that can be mixed together. As these fluids are important in reducing the amount of heat and friction during metalworking, they are used for different processes, such as grinding. It is during these processes that the fluid then becomes airborne hazards, allowing workers to inhale the chemicals associated with the metalworking fluid. However, these fluids could become contaminated with other materials that are also used in the manufacturing process, including particulate matter from other machinery, which are then breathed in along with the mist.
Health effects of metalworking fluid and oils
An estimated 1.2 million workers in metalworking and metalforming operations might be exposed to breathing in oil mist, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The organization said in addition to metalworking fluid becoming contaminated with other manufacturing substances, water-based fluid can also contain biological contaminants such as bacteria and fungal cells.
“Occupational exposures to metalworking fluids may cause a variety of health effects,” according to NIOSH. “Respiratory conditions include hypersensitivity pneumonitis (HP), chronic bronchitis, impaired lung function and asthma. Work-related asthma (WRA) is one of today’s most prevalent occupational disorders, imposing significant costs in healthcare and workers’ compensation.”
And to make matters worse, this fluid also poses a physical hazard as workers may be prone to fall injuries if this liquid accumulates on facility grounds, resulting in slippery floors.
Limiting multiple hazards with oil mist collection
NIOSH lists different control measures to lower the amount of oil mist that workers may come into contact with, including using alternative methods for manufacturing.
“Formulations have been developed with safer, less irritating additives and [metalworking fluid] components,” NIOSH said. “Machinery has been modified to limit the dispersal of MWF mists.”
Since modifying established manufacturing procedures may be difficult for employers, installing oil mist collectors is an effective method for controlling metalworking risks. Knowing the chemical and the physical hazards that fluids and oil mist may cause, employers must plan for these risks by using oil mist collection for metalworking applications.
To contain airborne hazards, oil mist collectors work by collecting airborne particulate materials and aerosols by passing them through a multi-stage filter system, which then allows clean air to flow through the top of the device.
Fume extraction and oil mist collection news brought to you by Air Impurities Removal Systems, Inc.