According to the Manufacturers’ Association, EEF, manufacturing contributes £6.7trillion to the global economy, with the UK currently the eight largest industrial nation in the world. UK manufacturing, encompassing sectors including automotive, aerospace and aeronautical, electronics, food and drink production, and hi-tech, makes up 11% of Gross Value Added (GVA) and directly employs over 2.5 million people.
Manufacturing and engineering industries have traditionally had a reputation for being inherently ‘dirty’, primarily due to the fact that pollutants are a natural by-product of the processes involved. A machine grinding, cutting, milling or turning at speeds while using moderate coolant pressure produces oil mist. These processes can also produce dust and oil smoke – with each pollutant creating differing sized particles and posing varying levels of risk.
Whilst larger particles such as dust enter the nose and mouth, finer particles such as oil mist and oil smoke pass through human ‘filters’ and travel into the respiratory system and/or the bloodstream. And, with particles from some modern machines tending to be smaller than those previously generated – the risk of health issues to workers can be increased due to traditional filters being unable to cope with these submicron particles. In fact, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that over 65 million people currently suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) with 3 million dying from it each year, making it the third leading cause of death worldwide.