Dermatitis and Cutting Oils and Coolants

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This is a frequent concern of end-users, and the machine shop managers.   Cases of skin irritation among the machine operators, and at times, even instances of skin inflammation and peeling naturally causes distress on the shop floor.

skin irritation

While unavoidable, as cutting oils and coolants are chemicals not really intended for skin exposure, a few simple measures go a long way in preventing dermatitis,

1.)   Do not use coolants at higher concentrations than specified. In general, concentrations higher than 10% is no recommended.

2.)   Remove chips and debris regularly from the bottom of the sump, since re-circulated solids can clog open pores.

3.)   Use only label-free cutting oils and coolants (non-hazardous).

label free cutting fluid

4.)   During every work-break (every 3 – 4 hours), thoroughly wash hands and arms with mild soap before proceeding with other activities.

wash hands

5.)   Remove clothing soiled with cutting oil and coolants immediately during work-breaks, and replace with dry, clean clothes.

6.)   If the use of nitrile or similar gloves and arm-bands are not practical while manning the machining and grinding process, the application of petroleum jelly on the arms and palms, to act as a barrier against the fluids

7.)   Use nitrile gloves, arm bands, and goggles when handling the concentrated cutting oil and coolants, as well as related tank-side additives
such as pH boosters and biocides.

man with gloves in working station

8.)   For affected personnel, allow him/her to consult a dermatologist who will prescribe the proper ointments or creams.

9.)   Re-assign affected or sensitive staff to other tasks with no possible exposure to chemicals.

10.)   Keep the work area well-ventilated, especially during the summer season where temperatures and humidity is high.

By following the above tips, the possibility break-outs of dermatitis may be significantly reduced.  Shop owners or managers are highly encouraged to educate the team-members on the above mentioned points.

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