Health & Safety Advice

HSE demands that metalworking fluids users should clearly demonstrate that they take every practicable step to control fluids, improve their condition and reduce exposure.

Lubriserv recognises that the new guide on health risks regarding asthma and respiratory diseases will pose problems for users. We offer a range of services aimed at helping customers identify the risks and build an effective programme for prevention and control.

Our Services for HSE include:

  • Risk assessment
  • Fluids Testing and Bio-Audits
  • Bacteria Dipslides
  • Atmosphere Control

New advanced NOM air filtration products are also available to remove both mist and bacteria from machine enclosures.


This important new guidance significantly changes the perception of risk of respiratory disease arising from the use of water-mix MWFs and changes the way COSHH criteria should be applied. It means that risk assessments for MWFs must be reviewed.

Guidance values for acceptable mist limits are no longer relevant, bacteria testing is now essential and firm onus has been placed on the user to reduce the risk of workers’ exposure. Failing to comply with the new guidance could mean that companies are at risk of civil and criminal legal actions against them.

HSE are targeting both large and small water mix coolant users with a strategic programme aimed at reducing the risks of respiratory illness. A number of improvement notices have been issued. Users are expected to adopt a four point approach to dealing with the risk which includes risk assessment, regular bacteria testing, efficient mist control and employee health surveillance programmes.


Key messages from the HSE can be summarised in this four point approach to risk reduction.

  1. Risk assessment
  2. Regular bacteria testing
  3. Efficient control of mist
  4. Health surveillance for workers


Recent investigations into the use of MWFs have seen a number of emerging lessons for users and suppliers of fluids and related equipment. During 2005-06 larger users have been targeted and of the companies visited by HSE inspectors 25% were issued with improvement notices based on exposure of their workers to risk of respiratory disease. Smaller users are being targeted this year.

Lubriserv’s products and services can help reduce metalworking fluid health risks

HSE are demanding that MWF users take all reasonably practicable steps to maintain fluids in good condition and to reduce workers’ exposure to mist especially in respect to bacteria contamination.

We are using our market leading expertise to offer a package of services aimed at helping customers identify the risks and plan effective measures of prevention and control including personal exposure monitoring for workers, DustTrak air quality testing for machine environments and Nederman air filtration equipment to remove oil mist and bacteria.

Whatever level of support you are looking for, whether it be on site testing or state of the art air filtration equipment, we can offer a product or service that enables you to meet your health and safety needs.

Click here to see Our services.


  • A key risk factor is the inhalation of harmful bacteria in mist generated by water-mix MWFs and wash chemicals
  • COSHH and other risk assessments must recognize the increased risk of serious respiratory disease and need to cover how harmful bacterial contamination is to be monitored and controlled
  • Risk assessments should no longer be dependent upon guidance values since a safe level of exposure is not known. There is now no agreed health based limit for exposure to water-mix MWF mists. This means that exposure of workers to mist has to be better controlled
  • Respiratory health surveillance amongst workers should be carried out where there is mist from MWFs and wash fluids
  • All users need to be aware of the risks of serious respiratory disease which may arise from exposure to mist. These include all employers, employees and occupational health and safety practitioners
  • Designers of new metalworking and washing machines need to ensure that mist is controlled at source, and that machines are easily cleanable
  • Direct means of monitoring bacteria contamination such as dipslides are essential to check the condition of fluids
  • Closer attention must be paid to cleaning machines correctly


The bacterial contamination of water-mix MWFsand associated machinery (such as washing machines) and pipework should be monitored and controlled. Direct means of measuring bacterial contamination should be used in conjunction with other checks on fluid quality, e.g. fluid concentration and pH. There are several ways of doing this. Microbiological dipslides are a simple way of checking bacterial contamination.

The risk assessment should cover how bacterial contamination of MWFs is to be monitored. Factors to be taken into account include the system history, contamination risk, and fluid characteristics. For many systems and sumps, weekly checks (such as dipslides) will be required. The risk assessment may vary this period if the continuing control of bacterial contamination can be demonstrated. Dipslides will normally be required at some intervals to check continuing control.

A dip slide consists of a plastic carrier coated with a sterile culture medium, which is dipped into the liquid to be tested. It is then incubated to allow microbial growth and the resulting colonies are estimated by reference to a chart on which the density of the resulting colonies is compared to a reference chart.

  • 10^3 CFU/ml Good control. Bacteria are being maintained at low levels. No further action is required.
  • 10^3 to 10^6 CFU/ml Reasonable control. Review control measures to ensure levels of bacteria remain under control. Risk assessment should specify action to be taken. Biocides and or cleaning may be indicated. If biocides are used, expert advice should be obtained, and the concentration of biocides should be monitored.
  • 10^6 CFU/ml Poor control. Immediate action should be taken in line with the risk assessment. Normally at very high levels draining and cleaning, should take place. Lubriserv are able to provide advice on the management of metalworking fluids to maintain them at optimum performance, and help reduce health risks.