Three metalworkers suffer lung conditions due to inhalation of fluid
Three employees of an Uxbridge, Greater London company have developed lung diseases following excessive exposure to metal fluid.
The CNC machine operators at Martin Baker Aircraft Company Ltd developed a condition known as hypersensitivity pneumonitis, which is an allergic reaction by the body to a substance. The symptoms include joint pain, shortness of breath and coughing. The machine operators had been exposed to the metal fluid mist for many years, leading to the development of the debilitating condition.
Aylesbury Crown Court was told that the workers had suffered exposure to the fluid for at least three years. One of the employees had become almost paralyzed by the condition, while another worker will never be able to work with metal working fluid ever again. A third will have to ensure that he does not come into contact with the fluid, which will require the implementation of special measures.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) conducted an investigation and discovered inadequate measures in place at the company to prevent exposure to the fluid.
The fluid is generally used in engineering processes as a coolant and lubricant. A mist is created by the fluid when machines are in use, which had been inhaled by around 60 workers in this particular case.
The company was fined £800,000 and ordered to pay the costs of £36,912, following a guilty plea to two breaches of the regulations. Stephen Faulkner, inspector with HSE, said that companies should also consider the health of workers, in addition to the safety. In many cases, this may require the use of PPE to prevent contact with harmful substances.