Air compressors do not have a noticeable impact on the concentration of airborne metalworking fluid (MWF) particles in real-world workplaces, according to the Health & Safety Executive (HSE).

The HSE has published new findings, in the form of Research Report 904, which look at airborne particles and dermal deposits from the use of air compressors for removing unwanted MWF from worked surfaces.

In real-world applications, workshops do not see a noticeable rise in airborne particles of MWF, above the normal ambient levels recorded during everyday operations.

This is because most of the droplets of MWF removed from the surface are heavy enough to fall quickly to the workshop floor, or to land as residue on the skin and clothing of the air compressor operator.

Air compressors do, therefore, cause an increase in dermal deposits, but this effect can be reduced by using lower pressure when removing MWF from surfaces, the HSE report adds, while protective clothing can prevent the droplets from reaching the operator’s skin.

Operators can also reduce the number of MWF particles sent their way by compressed air, simply by aiming the air compressor away from them.

“In most circumstances, compressed air forced droplets of MWF in the opposite direction to the operator,” the report notes.