Chemical and biological risks in the metalworking industry-how to protect oneself


The metal industry is characterized by the presence of different job sectors, each of which involves different risks depending on the use of chemical agents or devices that produce particles, dust, fibers and various residues which represent a chemical and biological hazard for the workers who are exposed to these substances for many hours daily.

What are the chemical and biological risks in the metalworking industry?

The different chemical and biological hazards in the metalworking industry depend on the type of job being done, such as painting, lamination, cutting, forging, sandblasting, turning etc. Each type of process exposes the workers to different physical and/or chemical & biological hazards, for example industrial machinery may expose workers to injury, bruising , cuts and scratches. The loud noises produced by some processes can expose workers to hearing risks. Moreover, the particles released during processing may pose a risk to the workers’ respiratory system.

Another hazard is represented by the chemical agents used in the metal painting sector where chemical reagents and lubricating fluids are used in many metalworking processes.

In particular, the latter are also known as cutting oils and these provide an ideal environment for the proliferation of bacteria pathogenic to the human organism. These characteristics of the metalworking industries require the highest adherence to occupational health and safety regulations in order to protect workers and avoid chemical and biological hazards.

Cleaning the work environment at the end of each shift and providing respiratory protection devices are indispensable actions and they also protect the employer from the risk of having to pay workers large amounts of compensation because of unsuitable working conditions.

How to protect the respiratory system from chemical and biological hazards in the metalworking industry

Respiratory protection against chemical and biological hazards is essential to safeguard the health of workers in the metalworking industry. Welding fumes, chemical agents found in paint or used for blasting can lead to acute respiratory diseases such as metal fumes fever, chronic bronchitis, pulmonary fibrosis, asthma and various types of tumors. In order to avoid the chemical-biological risk associated with machining in the metalworking sector, respiratory protective devices need to be used. A suitable device would be a powered air purifying respirator equipped with full face mask and battery powered blower unit fitted with filters. The filters need to be replaced periodically and the devices serviced in order to remain efficient over time.

Furthermore, these devices are usually equipped with inhalation valves which help keep the visor demisted and exhalation valves for the removal of exhaled and excess air.

The respirators with masks for protection against chemical and/or biological risks  manufactured and supplied by Kasco srl help to prevent the diseases that workers could contract when exposed to this type of risk.