Oil Mist Extraction

COSHH Regulations 2002 (as amended) require that exposure to metalworking fluids by inhalation, ingestion or skin contact is prevented where possible, or if prevention is not possible, then adequately controlled.


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Oil mist and aerosols arising from the use of metalworking fluids and cooling lubricants can be caused by

  • Mechanical effect through vaporisation of the cooling lubricant around quick rotating tools such as milling, grinding and turning
  • Through condensation of vaporised cooling lubricant on warm surfaces for example warm components stored in the open may pollute ambient air with emissions.

All surfaces coated with cooling lubricant could be considered a source of emission. The warmer the surface the greater the risk of contamination, which increases the risk of exposure to employees within the immediate environment.


Effects on health from exposure to oil mist

Oil mist arising from metalworking and machining operations can cause a variety of irritations and conditions. Workers who are exposed to oil mists and aerosols resulting from the use of cooling lubricants during machining processes are at risk of developing:

Skin disorders such as dermatitis.

Respiratory problems such as occupational asthma, bronchitis, irritation of the upper respiratory tract, breathing difficulties or a rare lunch disease known as extrinsic allergic alveolitis (EAA), which following repeated exposure may result in increasingly severe breathing difficulties.

Bacteria and fungi can also grow well in metal working fluids, along with toxic by-products if the right conditions are present. Irritation of the respiratory tract or flu-like symptoms may also develop following inhalation of these contaminants which can also result in compounding asthma symptoms.

Irritation to the eyes, nose and throat.

Cancer, though modern day working practiced combined with refined oils and the replacement of chemicals within metalworking fluids which were previously known to be carcinogenic have greatly reduced the risk of cancer induced by oil mist.


As an employer, one solution is to implement an oil mist filter system to control the contaminant and remove it from the workplace. Advances in the capability of the equipment available to protect workers from exposure to oil mist mean there are a range of effective options available.

Implementation of an oil mist filter system as a measure to prevent exposure will help achieve the necessary control and risk reduction. Oil mist separators, as part of an effective LEV system, will control oil mist and aerosols produced during metalworking processes and operations. This helps protect both the workers at source and all other workers within the general working environment from exposure. 

You are also responsible for ensuring that any controls you have in place to protect workers from oil mist continue to be effective over time. In addition, you must see to it that workers are adequately trained to understand how to use filter machines for oil properly and effectively as well as understanding the associated health risks. 

Although each oil mist filter system needs to effectively control contaminant produced from metalworking and machining processes, depending on the nature of operations, for example if machined components are stored whilst still warm, it is possible that a component will still produce oil mist for a period of time post operation. This will potentially put other workers within the general working environment at risk of exposure therefore we may also need to consider complementary systems to support LEV, which are capable of filtering larger volumes of contaminated air and providing a continuous supply of cleaned air to the workforce.

Speak to us to find out more about requirements and the solutions available to protect your workers from the effects of oil mists and aerosols. Give us a call and we will happily review your current systems and discuss suitable preventative measures with you.

To find out more, call us on 01604 635333 or email enquiries@mccarthy-environmental.co.uk