Control of legionella (and other) bacteria in metal working fluids (MWFs)

Legionella bacteria are commonly found in water supplies at low concentrations and if conditions (eg temperature and nutrients) are right, these microorganisms will grow. Water mix metal working fluids (MWFs) are mostly water and their industrial use may produce aerosols. Inhaling an aerosol contaminated with Legionella bacteria can cause Legionnaires’ disease. HSE guidance L8 “Legionnaires’ disease. The control of legionella bacteria in water systems” recommends that the MWF storage and distribution system of lathe and machine tool coolant systems should be cleaned and disinfected every six months or more frequently if recommended by machine tool or fluid suppliers.

However, the Health and Safety Laboratory has carried out research, Survival of Legionella pneumophila in metalworking fluids, which shows there is a minimal risk of Legionella bacteria contaminating such a system, if the system is properly managed.

HSE’s guidance on managing bacterial contamination of metalworking fluids suggests a risk-based approach, based on monitoring fluid condition and bacterial contamination: http://www.hse.gov.uk/metalworking/bacterial.htm

If you can demonstrate that metalworking fluids are managed in accordance with the COSHH essentials sheet Managing sumps and bacterial contamination (http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/guidance/mw05.pdf) and HSE’s guidance on managing bacterial contamination in metalworking fluids an additional assessment of the risk of Legionnaires’ disease is normally unnecessary. However, further assessment and precautions will be necessary to cover any special circumstances, such as deep cleaning of sumps and machinery with jet washers, where the potential for exposure to airborne hazardous bacteria is much greater. This is due to the disturbance of microbial slime known as biofilm – where Legionella may survive. Avoid water jetting where possible, as it tends to create fine water droplets or mists.

If water jetting is necessary carry out a risk assessment, to include respiratory and other risks such as those arising from the use of high pressure and electricity, see,

More guidance on metalworking fluids can be found on the HSE web page: http://www.hse.gov.uk/metalworking/index.htm

For more information on controlling the risk of Legionnaires’ disease, see Legionella and Legionnaires’ disease: http://www.hse.gov.uk/legionnaires/index.htm, or contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk, ad we’ll be happy to help

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.

 

COSHH advice sheets updated for woodworking industry

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HSE’s suite of direct advice sheets specific to the woodworking industry has been updated, and can help employers, the self-employed and franchisees comply with COSHH regulations.

The new sheets set out what to do to reduce exposure to substances such as wood dust to an adequate level, and protect workers health.

Direct advice sheets for the woodworking industry

This information will help employers, the self employed and franchisees to comply with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH), as amended, to control exposure to wood dusts, etc, and protect workers health.

WD0: Advice for managers: http://www.hse.gov.uk/coshh/essentials/direct-advice/woodworking.htm#advice-managers

WD1: Bandsaws: http://www.hse.gov.uk/coshh/essentials/direct-advice/woodworking.htm#bandsaws

WD2: Circular bench saws: http://www.hse.gov.uk/coshh/essentials/direct-advice/woodworking.htm#circular-bench-saws

WD3: Cross-cut saws: http://www.hse.gov.uk/coshh/essentials/direct-advice/woodworking.htm#cross-cut-saws

WD4: Vertical spindle moulders: http://www.hse.gov.uk/coshh/essentials/direct-advice/woodworking.htm#vertical-spindle-moulders

WD5: Overhead and CNC routers: http://www.hse.gov.uk/coshh/essentials/direct-advice/woodworking.htm#overhead-CNC-routers

WD7: Hand-held sanding machines: http://www.hse.gov.uk/coshh/essentials/direct-advice/woodworking.htm#hand-held-sanding-machines

WD10: Wall saw: http://www.hse.gov.uk/coshh/essentials/direct-advice/woodworking.htm#wall-saw

WD11: Surface planer: http://www.hse.gov.uk/coshh/essentials/direct-advice/woodworking.htm#surface-planer

WD12: Fixed sanding machines (narrow belt): http://www.hse.gov.uk/coshh/essentials/direct-advice/woodworking.htm#fixed-sanding-machines-narrow-belt

WD13: Fixed sanding machines (disc): http://www.hse.gov.uk/coshh/essentials/direct-advice/woodworking.htm#fixed-sanding-machines-disc

WD14: Fixed sanding machines (drum/bobbin): http://www.hse.gov.uk/coshh/essentials/direct-advice/woodworking.htm#fixed-sanding-machines-drum-bobbin

WD15: Chop saw: http://www.hse.gov.uk/coshh/essentials/direct-advice/woodworking.htm#chop-saw

WD17: Suction hose attachment for cleaning: http://www.hse.gov.uk/coshh/essentials/direct-advice/woodworking.htm#suction-hose-attachment-for-cleaning

For more advice on managing woodworking safely visit: http://www.hse.gov.uk/woodworking/index.htm#utm_source=govdelivery&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=digest-10-apr-19&utm_term=woodworking&utm_content=coshh-advice-sheets

For more advice of control of substances hazardous to health visit: http://www.hse.gov.uk/coshh/

Or contact us on 07896 016380 or at fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be happy to help

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.

HEALTH & SAFETY NEWS UPDATE – 4TH AUGUST 2016

We hope you find our news updates useful. If you know of anyone who may benefit from reading them, please encourage them to register at the bottom-left of our news page (http://www.eljay.co.uk/news/) and we’ll email them a link each time an update is published. If in the unlikely event any difficulties are experienced whilst registering we’ll be more than happy to help and can be contacted on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk

How to carry out a COSHH risk assessment – worker dies from toxic gas

A medicinal herbal manufacturing company has been fined £45,000 after a worker died from exposure to a toxic gas.

The 50 year old employee was using cleaning chemicals to clean a changing room when he was exposed to a toxic gas (likely to be chlorine) and died at the scene.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident which occurred in September 2014 found that he had not been trained in the safe use of chemicals and no company Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) assessment had been carried out.

HM Inspector Stephen Farthing said: “This was a tragic industrial incident that was entirely preventable had suitable precautions been taken. [The employee] had not received any training in the safe use of hazardous chemicals and as a result died from the exposure to a toxic gas.

“Companies should ensure that they assess all the risks associated with the use of dangerous chemical and that exposure to their employees is either eliminated or minimised.”

How to carry out a COSHH risk assessment

A COSHH assessment concentrates on the hazards and risks from hazardous substances in your workplace.

Remember that health hazards are not limited to substances labelled as ‘hazardous’. Some harmful substances can be produced by the process you use, eg wood dust from sanding, or silica dust from tile cutting.

Identify the hazards

  • Identify which substances are harmful by reading the product labels and safety data sheets (SDS)
  • If you are in doubt, contact your supplier
  • Remember to think about harmful substances produced by your processes, such as cutting or grinding, or to which workers may be otherwise exposed

Decide who might be harmed and how

  • How might workers be exposed? Think about the route into the body (whether the substance can be breathed in, get onto or through the skin or can even be swallowed) and the effects of exposure by each of these routes
  • Think of how often people work with the substance and for how long
  • Think about anyone else who could be exposed
  • Don’t forget maintenance workers, contractors and other visitors or members of the public who could be exposed
  • Also think about people who could be exposed accidentally, eg while cleaning, or what happens if controls fail

Evaluate the risks and decide on precautions

Once you have carried out a risk assessment and identified which harmful substances are present, and how workers can be harmed, you need to think about preventing exposure.

  • Do you really need to use a particular substance, or is a safer alternative available?
  • Can you change the process to eliminate its use or avoid producing it? If this is not possible, you must put in place adequate control measures to reduce exposure

The measures you adopt could include the following:

Changing the process to reduce risks

  • Consider whether you can change the process you use to reduce the risk of exposure. For example, you could reduce the temperature of a process to reduce the amount of vapour getting into the air or use pellets instead of powders as they are less dusty

Containment

  • Enclose the process or activity as much as possible to minimise the escape or release of the harmful substance
  • Use closed transfer and handling systems and minimise handling of materials
  • Extract emissions of the substance near the source

Systems of work

  • Restrict access to those people who need to be there
  • Plan the storage of materials, and use appropriate containers. Check that storage containers are correctly labelled and that incompatible materials, for example acids and caustics, are separated
  • Plan the storage and disposal of waste

Cleaning

  • Exposure to hazardous substances can occur during cleaning, so plan and organise the workplace so that it can be easily and effectively cleaned
  • Smooth work surfaces will allow easy cleaning
  • Have the right equipment and procedures to clear up spillages quickly and safely
  • Clean regularly using a ‘dust-free’ method – vacuum, don’t sweep

If you have five or more employees, you must record your assessment but, even if you have fewer than five, it makes sense to write down what steps you have taken to identify the risks. And the really important part is making a list of the actions you have taken to control the risks to workers’ health.

The risk assessment should be regularly reviewed to ensure that it is kept up to date to take into account any changes in your workplace.

For more information, visit the HSE web page: http://www.hse.gov.uk/toolbox/harmful/coshh.htm or contact us on 07896 016380 or at fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be happy to help.

Contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence