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Metalworking fluids (MWFs) are oils and other liquids that cool and lubricate metalwork, specifically machinery. You need to know what MWFs are and how to protect yourself while you use them.

Classification station

To better understand MWFs, you need to know how to classify them. See the classification chart below.

MWF ClassificationExplanation
Straight oilsAlso referred to as “neat” oil, not meant to be diluted with water.
Soluble oilsUsually highly refined petroleum oils and emulsifiers.
Semi-synthetic fluidsA mixture of oils, usually conventional and synthetic.
Synthetic fluidsFluids that usually include detergent-like components.

Hazard zone

If you don’t follow good hygiene practices, wear the proper PPE, or manage MWFs, you place yourself in a dangerous spot. Users who don’t take safety precautions can experience:

  • Skin irritation;
  • Allergic contact dermatitis;
  • Irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat; and
  • Breathing difficulties such as bronchitis and asthma.

MWF training center

Under the HazCom standard, your employer must train you on:

  • Where SDSs are located.
  • Where MWFs are used in your facility.
  • Work practices that keep you safe from MWFs.
  • Adverse health effects that are associated with MWF exposure and who you can report to if you experience symptoms.
  • The PPE you need to use to limit your exposure to MWFs.
  • Spill clean-up procedures and other emergency protocols.