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Promote Best Metalworking Practices with ASTM Standards Recommended by OSHA

Workers who manufacture parts for automobiles, aircraft, and other heavy machinery are exposed to potentially toxic metalworking fluids, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the U.S. Department of Labor. These fluids are widely used for their coolant, lubricant, and corrosion-resistant properties.

OSHA gives advice for safer workplaces in Metalworking Fluids: Safety and Health Best Practices Manual (2001). The in-depth manual, which cites ASTM International standards, explains exposure monitoring, training, respiratory protection, machinery cleaning and draining, and other programs devised to reduce potentially harmful exposure. The manual references standards developed by ASTM Committees E34 on Occupational Health and Safety, and D22 on Sampling and Analysis of Atmospheres.

John K. Howell, Ph.D., chairman of ASTM Subcommittee E34.50 on Health and Safety Standards for Metal Working Fluids, noted that Section C, under the question, ‘What Are the Health, Safety and Environmental Concerns That Should Be Considered When Selecting a Fluid?’ references these ASTM standards:

• E 1697-98, Determining Carcinogenic Potential of Virgin Base Oils in Metalworking Fluids,
• E 1302-00, Guide for Acute Animal Toxicity Testing of Water-Miscible Metalworking Fluids, and
• E 1497-00, Practice for Safe Use of Water-Miscible Metalworking Fluids.

Howell, who manages Product Stewardship, Technology and Regulatory for Castrol’s Specialized Industrial Business Unit, BP, Downers Grove, Ill., said, “In Section I, Instituting a Monitoring Program, under the question ‘What Are the Sampling and Analytical Methods That Can Be Used?,’ ASTM PS 42-97, Provisional Standard Test Method for Metal Removal Aerosol in Workplace Atmospheres, is also mentioned.” ASTM Subcommittee D22.04 on Workplace Atmospheres is currently proposing PS 42-97 as a full-consensus standard.

According to Howell, the ASTM standards support efforts by the United Automobile Workers (UAW), International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, and United Steelworkers of America to reduce toxic exposure in the workplace. In 1993, the UAW petitioned OSHA for an emergency temporary standard. OSHA identified metalworking fluids as an issue worthy of agency action and created the manual. (Access it at http://www.osha.gov. Go to M for Metalworking Fluids; scroll down to the Control section; click on the first bullet.)

Dee Woodhull, Organizational Resources Counselors, Washington, D.C., and Cathy Barmoy, Independent Lubricant Manufacturers Association, Alexandria, Va., are collecting public response to OSHA’s manual. ASTM members who wish to comment should contact Woodhull (phone: 202/293-2980).

For technical information regarding standards developed by Subcommittee E34.50, contact John K. Howell, Ph.D., Specialized Industrial Business Unit, Castrol Business Subsector, BP, Downers Grove, Ill. (phone: 630/743-7340). Committee E34 meets April 14-15 in Pittsburgh and Nov. 3-4 in Miami Beach, Fla. For meeting or membership information, contact Maxine Topping, manager, ASTM Technical Committee Operations (phone: 610/832-9737). //

Copyright 2002, ASTM