Cutting Fluids

The toxic tort lawyers at Simmons Hanly Conroy have been working with people diagnosed with occupational diseases from exposure to metalworking fluids for years. In that time, we have represented thousands of individuals and their families from across the United States who are involved in litigation involving respiratory diseases from occupational exposure.

Exposure to cutting fluids or metalworking fluids can have serious, long-term consequences and can be linked to various respiratory diseases including hypersensitivity pneumonitis.

Cutting Fluids in the Workplace

If workers are exposed to cutting fluids through the air they breathe or through direct skin contact, cutting fluid diseases can develop. Respiratory diseases that can develop from improper exposure to cutting fluids in the workplace include hypersensitivity pneumonitis, lipoid pneumonia, occupational asthma, chronic bronchitis and more. Health conditions that can occur from direct skin contact with cutting fluids include allergic contact dermatitis and irritant contact dermatitis.

The Dangers of Exposure to Cutting Fluid

Water-based metalworking fluids support the growth of biological contaminants, which when inhaled can cause respiratory diseases. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health estimates that 1.2 million workers in the machine finishing, machine tooling and other metalworking and metal-forming industries are potentially exposed to organic contaminants through the use of cutting fluids.

These people have worked hard their entire lives. They have built our country, including the products that make it strong. At hundreds of job sites across the United States, hundreds of thousands of workers experience exposure to metalworking fluids on a daily basis which puts their long-term health at risk.

Occupational exposure to metalworking fluids occurs by breathing aerosois – or the mist – generated during the machining process or through skin contact when workers touch machine parts, equipment or tools covered with metalworking fluids.

The United Auto Workers and United Steelworkers of American have repeatedly petitioned the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration to set comprehensive standards for metalworking fluids. Currently, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends that exposure to metalworking fluid aerosols be limited to 0.4 milligrams per cubic meter of air. However, it is just that, a recommendation, it is not enforced.

Cutting Fluids in the Workplace

Exposure to cutting fluids in the workplace can lead to dangerous, sometimes life-threatening respiratory diseases, and this often not the fault of the worker.

Common cutting fluids and metalwashing fluids used in the workplace often include:

  • Straight oil (petroleum oils)
  • Water-based fluids (soluble oils and synthetic fluids)
  • Emulsifiers
  • Anti-weld agents
  • Corrosion inhibitors
  • Extreme pressure additives
  • Buffers
  • Biocides

Types of Cutting Fluids

Cutting fluids, also known as metalworking fluids, are liquids such as coolants, cutting oils, machining fluids, metalwashing fluids or lubricants often used in manufacturing industries to prolong the life of machines and tools. They are also used to protect and treat the surface of the metal being machined. Depending on the type of fluid, exposure to cutting fluids can have serious, long-term health consequences, resulting in cutting fluid disease lawsuits.

Certain types of cutting fluids can include:

  • Straight oil (petroleum oils)
  • Water-based fluids (soluble oils and synthetic fluids)
  • Emulsifiers
  • Anti-weld agents
  • Corrosion inhibitors
  • Extreme pressure additives
  • Buffers
  • Biocides

Cutting Fluid Disease

Exposure to cutting fluids or metalworking fluids has been linked to various respiratory diseases, such as:

  • Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis
  • Lipoid Pneumonia
  • Occupational Asthma
  • Chronic Bronchitis
  • Allergic Contact Dermatitis
  • Irritant Contact Dermatitis

Cutting fluid diseases that involve respiratory conditions can occur when a person breathes in the mist generated during the machining process. Other cutting fluid diseases can occur through direct skin contact when workers touch machine parts, equipment or tools covered with metalworking fluids.