Hazard Watch: Oil Mist as an occupational exposure hazard

Oil mist is a common occupational exposure hazard in industries where oil-based fluids or lubricants are used. It refers to tiny airborne droplets of oil that are generated during processes like machining, metalworking, and other activities that involve using oil-based products.

Which industries are most affected by Oil Mist Exposure?

There are a number of industries where oil mist exposure can be a hazard for a workforce.

Manufacturing and Metalworking are industries that are involved in metal fabrication, machining, and metalworking processes. These locations are often exposed to oil mist. This includes automotive manufacturing, aerospace, machinery, and equipment production.

Similarly mining and extraction also have oil mist exposure hazards. Workers in the mining industry, particularly those involved in drilling and cutting operations, are exposed to oil mist generated by hydraulic fluids and lubricants used in heavy machinery.

Certain food processing operations, such as frying, deep-fat cooking, and industrial baking, can also generate oil mist. Workers in these industries may be exposed to oil mist containing cooking oils and fats.

Printing operations also utilize oil-based inks, such as lithography, that can generate oil mist. Workers involved in printing processes may be exposed to the mist during ink application and drying.

What effects does oil mist exposure have on our health?

Exposure to oil mist can have several detrimental health effects on workers, depending on the type of oil and the duration and concentration of exposure. Some common health effects include:

  • Respiratory Issues: Inhaling oil mist can lead to respiratory symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and bronchitis. Prolonged exposure may contribute to the development of occupational asthma.
  • Dermatitis: Direct contact with oil mist can cause skin irritation, redness, and dermatitis. This is more common when workers have frequent and prolonged exposure to the mist.
  • Eye Irritation: Oil mist can cause eye irritation, leading to redness, itching, and discomfort. In some cases, it may lead to more severe eye conditions if not adequately addressed.

Our expertise in the analysis of Oil Mist

Regular monitoring of exposure levels is essential for ensuring worker safety. At RPS, we can provide UKAS accredited analysis for oil mist, with a detection limit of 0.04ug. We can sample oil mist on a washed GFA filter, and provide analysis based on the MDHS 47/3 method. Our state-of-the-art laboratory is well equipped to provide suitable media, that can specifically monitor the levels of oil mist in the workplace.

By understanding the risks and taking proactive measures, employers can protect their workers and create a safer work environment.

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