During October 2018, The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) will be undertaking a focused inspection campaign on manufacturing and engineering companies who are users of Metal Working Fluids (MWF) throughout Northern Ireland.
The emphasis of the campaign will be on maintaining machinery guarding, how companies control risks from MWF exposure (respirable & dermal routes), and where applicable, have current Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) records to ensure that the system has been examined within the last 14 months, in compliance with regulations.
In Northern Ireland an estimated 350-400 people die each year due to work related ill health, costing the economy an estimated £238 million per year.
In August 2016 the Workplace Health Leadership Group NI (WHLGNI) was formed by stakeholders including the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI).
The Group’s vision recognised in order to protect both business and employees, employers should have a ‘healthy’ as well as a ‘safe’ culture.
Exposure to metalworking fluids can cause a number of serious and debilitating conditions such as dermatitis, occupational asthma, bronchitis, irritation of the upper respiratory tract, breathing difficulties or, rarely, a more serious lung disease called Occupational Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis (OHP) and Occupational Asthma (from water-mix MWFs).
Throughout the Inspection Campaign, HSENI Inspectors will check that:
- a suitable risk assessment is available;
- exposure to MWF by inhalation and skin contact is either prevented or adequately controlled;
- quality of MWF is maintained and measures taken to minimise bacterial contamination of metalworking and associated washing fluids;
- health surveillance is being carried out where necessary; and
- machinery is adequately guarded
Where Inspectors find the above are not in place, Enforcement Action, in the form of Improvement and Prohibition Notices, may be issued.
In preparation for the inspections, Manufacturing and Engineering Companies are advised to use the following check list to assess their current management of MWF: