Occupational Dermatitis and Allergic Respiratory During Machining
Machining processes typically involve the use of coolants and lubricants to reduce friction and heat. Prolonged skin exposure to these substances can lead to dermatitis. Most common metalworking fluids are strongly alkaline, and contact with skin can remove natural oils and damage the proteins in the skin's protective outer layer. Skin's water content is diminished, and the result is dry, scaly, inflamed skin.
Metalworking fluids (MWFs), mainly used as 2 - 10% emulsions in water which are among the commonest chemical exposures. Aggressive pH, this is not the only cause, though. Metal fines, particularly those containing chromium, zinc, cobalt and nickel are often the culprits in machine shop dermatitis, along with improper fluid concentration, and additives that are out of balance. Contrary to popular belief, bacteria do not cause irritant contact dermatitis, although bacteria can aggravate the condition and cause secondary infections.
How can irritant contact dermatitis be prevented in a metal shop? These skin diseases as well as several minor ones associated with exposure to lubricating coolants can be prevented by measures designed to minimize contact and to improve personal hygiene.
Preventive Measures for Occupational Dermatitis:
1.) Follow the instructions and training given by your employer on safe systems of work when working with metalworking fluids.
2.) Use splash guards, where provided, to control splashing and misting.
3.) Use any enclosures or ventilation provided to remove or control any mist or vapor produced.
4.) Allow a time delay before opening the doors on machine enclosures to ensure that all mist and vapor have been removed by the ventilation.
5.) Report any damaged or defective splash guards, ventilation hoods or other control equipment.
6.) Open workroom doors and windows to improve natural ventilation.
1.) Reduce your contact with wet workpieces and surfaces.
2.) Don not put your bare hands into fluid sumps or use oily rags to wipe them clean.
3.) Wear suitable gloves, overalls, aprons, goggles or face shields if needed (Notice: Gloves can be hazardous if worn near rotating machinery or parts.)
4.) Take care not to contaminate the inside of your gloves with metalworking fluids when putting them on or taking them off.
5.) You should ensure your hands are kept clean and in good condition. Using pre-work creams may help to make removing contaminants easier. After-work creams are particularly beneficial because they help restore the natural moisture content of the skin after washing hands.
6.) Cover any cuts and abrasions with a waterproof dressing.
7.) Wash regularly with soap and water to remove metalworking fluids from your skin. Avoid using abrasive or powerful solvent cleaners.
8.) Wash your hands thoroughly before eating, drinking or smoking. Pay particular attention to washing skin under rings and watch straps.
Sump fluid control
1.) Do not discard unwanted food, drink or any other debris into the sump.
2.) Tell your supervisor if you see any layers of scum or large amounts of tramp oil on top of the sump fluid, or if the sump fluid is dirty or smelly.
3.) Follow good working practices when mixing fluids, cleaning and topping up sumps etc.
1.) Store personal protective equipment in the changing facilities provided or another clean storage area.
2.) Change dirty overalls regularly and keep oily rags out of your pockets.
3.) Avoid eating or drinking in areas where metalworking fluids are used.
Occupational dermatitis and allergic respiratory issues are significant concerns for those working in the machining industry. The more you know about the hazards associated with metalworking fluids and the precautions you should take, the safer you will be.
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