Partnerships play starring role in ensuring COSHH compliance
All manufacturers have been required to protect their employees from exposure to hazardous substances, including airborne oil mist particles, since 1988 when the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) regulations were first introduced. Whilst the onus is currently on employers to provide effective control measures, many of the UK’s machine tool suppliers offer oil mist extraction as an option when selling metalworking CNC machines to ensure customers do not have to think about this after purchase.
Telford based oil mist filters manufacturer Filtermist International has worked in partnership with sliding head lathes specialist Star Micronics GB Ltd for more than 20 years to ensure Star’s customers benefit from the most effective mist extraction for their specific requirements. Filtermist’s Divisional Sales Director for Oil Mist, Craig Woodward, recently spoke to Star’s Operations Manager, Alec Warner, to find out why Star places such importance on this partnership.
CW: “Alec, our installation engineers seem to be at Star most weeks at the moment fitting either Filtermist or Absolent oil mist filters to Star machines before they are dispatched to the customer’s premises?”
AW: “Yes that’s right, the majority of our customers decide they want to include oil mist extraction as part of their investment to ensure they’re compliant with COSHH regs straight away. Installing the unit at our premises before the machine tool is dispatched means it’s ready to go as soon as the machine is set-up at the customer’s facility.”
CW: “So presumably, customers find it very valuable that they can access this directly through Star and pay for it with the machine tool, rather than having to source separately?”
AW: “Absolutely. From a customer’s perspective, it makes sense to buy everything at the same time rather than having to go back and make another business case for additional investment.”
CW: “Reducing exposure to oil mist is one of the Health and Safety Executive’s main focusses at the moment as part of its efforts to reduce occupational lung disease. It’s not currently law to fit Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) to CNC machines, but I know that this is something the HSE would like to see happening.”
AW: “Star machines are made in Japan and shipped all over the world so the requirements for mist extraction will vary from country to country. In the UK we advise customers that LEV is fitted before they take delivery of the machine so they comply with UK regulations and best practice. Most of our customers recognise that looking after the health of their workforce is really important – not only from a legal and moral perspective, but also from a common-sense angle. Days lost to ill-health directly impact production and as we know, all manufacturers want to minimise down-time as much as possible.”
CW: “Star has included Filtermist units as an optional extra for a long-time, but as we mentioned earlier, you now offer Absolent filters too and I’m right in saying that demand has increased for Absolent solutions in recent years?”
AW: “Yes that’s correct. Our technology has developed over the years with faster spindle speeds and the increasing requirement for high pressure systems which means a greater volume of oil mist particles are generated during the machining process. This particle loading requires high performance filtration which the Absolent units are more suitable for. As Filtermist is also the UK distributor for Absolent it makes it easy for us to spec the best option for each customer.”
CW: “Yes, we do include after filters on all Filtermist installations for Star, but you’re right – the Absolent units do offer a higher level of filtration which is the ideal solution for high pressure neat oil applications. We’ll specify the best unit for a specific application, but it also depends on the customer’s requirements – some customers prefer stand-alone units on each machine tool as that offers them flexibility if they need to re-configure their workshops, but some want to extract into a central ducting system. In these cases, the Absolent range of units are able to handle higher airflows to meet all system requirements.”
CW: “Star also offers Absolent units colour-matched to its machines doesn’t it?
AW: “We do! Not all customers want the filtration unit the same colour as the machine tool, but some do so it blends in with the overall installation. The fact that we can access this service through Filtermist is another plus.”
CW: “Can you tell us why Star has chosen to work with Filtermist for such a long time?”
AW: “It’s well recognised that Filtermist is the industry leader for oil mist extraction and as a responsible supplier, we want to ensure that we’re supplying the best products possible to our customers. Filtermist’s products are extremely well made and the company’s comprehensive service means we can get the units installed pretty much whenever we need them. We can be confident that our customers will be happy with the quality of mist extraction provided, and the fact that Filtermist has its own team of engineers means our customers can access aftersales support whenever and wherever they need it.”