Dangers of Metal Working ‘Mist’ still not being heeded

Dangers of Metal Working ‘Mist’ still not being heeded

The danger of exposure to metal working fluids is still not understood by some employers.  An ejector seat manufacturer was recently fined £800,00 for failing to protect its workers under the COSHH regulations.  COSHH, the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health, is how your employer approaches the safe and acceptable practice of any substances that can be considered hazardous to employees either by coming in to direct contact with them or breathing in fumes caused by the substances.

Three of the firm’s skilled machine operators developed a lung condition known as hypersensitivity pneumonitis after many years of exposure to the mist of working metal fluid.  The disease, also known as extrinsic allergic alveolitis, is an allergic reaction to breathing in a substance and symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath and joint pain.  It was reported that, after years of exposure to the working metal fluid mist, one of the workers is now virtually paralysed.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the measures in place within the factory to stop the exposure to workers were inadequate.  Martin Baker Aircraft Company Limited failed to put in place a system of cleaning away the excess fluid, used as a lubricant and coolant,  or providing extraction to prevent the build-up of the mist.

HSE Inspector, Stephen Faulkner, said “Companies need to make sure they consider workers’ health just as much as their safety when carrying out risk assessments. The dangers of breathing in metal working fluid are well known within the industry. In this case one worker has had his health permanently and severely damaged, two others have also been affected, all will have to live with their condition for the rest of their lives.”

Information on how to protect workers from the dangers of metal working fluid can be found on HSE’s website: http://www.hse.gov.uk/metalworking/index.htm

Roberts Jackson provides legal support and advice for workers who may have been affected by a breach in COSHH Regulations leading to breathing or skin conditions.