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Metalworking fluids (MWF) are essential in many industrial processes, providing lubrication and cooling to metal parts during machining operations. However, they can also pose a risk to workers if not handled properly. In order to promote safe use of MWF, it is important to have a good understanding of the properties of these fluids and the hazards they can pose. That's why I have included some PDFs on this site to help you learn more about MWF and how to use them safely. These resources provide comprehensive information on the types of MWF, their properties, and how to handle them in the workplace. Whether you are an occupational hygienist, an engineer, or just someone who is interested in the topic, these PDFs are a valuable resource for learning about the safe use of MWF.

Resources for understanding and controlling risk from metalworking fluids

The basics are:

Limit emissions by enclosing machines, extracting air from them, and reducing airgun pressure.

Limit the hazard by testing coolant for strength, pH and bacteria.


Follow official guidance to discharge your duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1972. This prevents ill health and when documented is the employer’s defence in prosecutions and claims.

COSHH Essentials series from the HSE. Simple and pragmatic. MW1 and MW5 really are essential.

MW0 Advice for managers
MW1 CNC machining controls
MW2 Control of skin risks during machining
MW3 Sump cleaning: water-mix fluids
MW4 Sump cleaning: neat oils
MW5 Managing mwf
INDG 365 Working Safely with Metalworking Fluids a Guide for Employees
UKLA Good Practice Guide
MDHS 95/3 Metalworking fluid mist
UK method of test for metalworking fluid mist. 
MDHS 84/2 Oil mist
MDHS 82/2 The dust lamp
Case studies- Outbreak of respiratory disease at Powertrain Ltd, Longbridge, Birmingham
Powertrain Occupational Respiratory Disease Outbreak: Report of Immunological Investigation
Hypersensitivity pneumonitis in a high school teacher 2015
Systematic Review of Respiratory Outbreaks Associated with Exposure to Water-Based Metalworking Fluids 2012
Mists created by the use of compressed airlines for the removal of metalworking fluids- Assessment of the possible exposure health risks HSL RR904, 2011
Metalworking fluid and use of compressed airguns in machining: expert workshop, HSL RR1171, 2022

Air sampling guidance

HSE Case studies and articles of interest

A selection of HSE publications and academic articles about the health effects of exposure to metalworking fluids. There are plenty more out there if you ask Google.

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