This news article featured in issue no.20 in CHSP’s February – March 2023 newsletter
In this article you will learn of a serious case of pneumonitis that developed over a prolonged period of time whilst working for a Fabricating Company.
What took place
An unnamed welder fabricator developed hypersensitive pneumonitis whilst working as an employee for PYC
Engineering Ltd. This condition is a respiratory illness acquired after 30 years of working within an environment that
exposed him to welding fumes and metal working fluid mist.
What is hypersensitive pneumonitis?
Hypersensitive Pneumonitis is an allergic reaction that causes inflammation in the small air sacs of the lungs also known as the alveoli. The function of the alveoli is to move oxygen and carbon dioxide into and out of the bloodstream. Symptoms can be immediate (acute) and go away quickly, or they may develop over time and become ongoing (chronic). The condition severely diminished the workers quality of life preventing him from working and causing him to need an oxygen mask day to day. In 2020 he was being considered for a potential lung transplant.
Upon investigation the HSE discovered that there were no industry standard control measures in place
including Local exhaust ventilation, provision and use of respiratory protective equipment and maintenance regime of metal working fluid.
PYC Engineering Limited of Eastside Industrial Estate, Jackson Street, St Helens, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
The company was fined £70,000 and ordered to pay £9555.29 in costs at Grimsby Magistrates’ Court.
How can you put measures in place to prevent a similar eventuality in your place of business.
• Consider switching to non water based options that don’t support harmful microbial growth and byproducts
• Ventilate work areas where metal working fluid related mist, dust, mould, vapours and fumes are possible
• Do not rely upon general ventilation alone. Use local exhaust ventilation to extract airborne contaminants out of the workplace to reduce the chance of workers breathing in contaminants.
• Have a trained and competent person to test, monitor the ph of metal working fluid and strength, record
to enable the prevention of harmful bacteria from developing.
Have COSHH assessments prepared for the different metals that are worked on that may give off
fumes and substances such as lubricants and coolants that workers use to maintain machines.
• Have the COSHH assessments readily available to workers and brief workers on the requirements of
the relevant controls set out.
• Train appointed workers to achieve correct dilution rates of fluids.
• Remove contaminants such as tramp oil from the work area
• Arrange for the atmosphere of working areas to be tested once controls are in place by a competent
occupational hygienist to ensure the pars per million are sufficiently controlled
• Have a robust health surveillance process in place and arrange for respiratory/ spirometry checks on
a periodic basis to identify early, any potential issues that need addressing before they become long
• Follow the advice in the outcome of any health assessments undertaken.
• Clean up spills in a timely manner using spill kits
• Provide PPE and ensure workers wear them
• Ensure break out areas are provided and maintained away from the machines and discourage eating
in machine operating areas
• Ensure risk assessments are prepared and communicated to workers.
• Provide adequate handwashing facilities and barrier creams
• Implement disciplinary measures for those breaching health and safety standards that are in place to
keep workers safe.
• Have first aid kits and eye wash station in a clean and accessible place controlled by the first aider
CHSP offer Occupational Health and Wellbeing training, click on the link to access.
CHSP also offer an advice service on retainer which includes the provision of toolbox talks with a host of occupational health and safety matters such as Control Of Substances Hazardous to Health, Dust and Personal Protectve Equipment.
For further advice and support make your enquiries to:
Tel: 07908 174408