Health & Safety

Health & Safety guidance from the surface industry experts

There are many things that have an impact on those running businesses within the surface finishing industry. Of those, Health & Safety is at the forefront. As the trade association representing surface engineering and finishing, the SEA is able to provide help and guidance on all Health & Safety issues that affects our industry, from compliance with current legislation to preventing workplace injuries.


Managing health & safety in the workplace

A large and diverse industry, there are a number of potential health issues that could affect employees of surface engineering companies, whether these are related to ill health (occupational and work-related asthma, dermatitis, musculoskeletal injuries etc.) and injury (manual handling, slips and trips, contact with harmful substances, falls from height etc.).

To help our members, the SEA are able to offer advice and guidance on a range of Health & Safety issues, including the following:

  • Biological Monitoring. Under various legislation, monitoring is required to measure the levels and exposure of employees to substances such as chromium, cadmium and nickel.
  • Hexavalent Chromium. It is a legal requirement to monitor the use of hexavalent chromium and other substances of very high concern (SVHC). The SEA and HSE have written guidance documents on the use of these such substances and how companies can comply with legislation.
  • Legionnaires Disease. A potentially fatal form of pneumonia found in water systems. Further guidance on the control of legionella bacteria is available here.
  • Nickel Plating. Inhaling mist that contains compounds of nickel sulphate and nickel chloride can lead to serious health problems such as asthma, and an increased risk of cancer in some cases. COSHH Regulations require certain precautionary measures to be put in place when using these compounds. More information is available by clicking here.
  • Noise at Work. It is a requirement by all companies to comply with the Control of Noise at Work Regulations.
  • Trichloroethylene. Health and safety controls and restrictions on the use of this substance have been in place for several years. The SEA, in conjunction with DEFRA, EEF and the HSE, has produced guidance on the use of trichloroethylene.
  • Use of Workplace Carcinogens. It has long since been recognised that exposure to certain substances can cause cancer. Use of these chemicals are controlled under COSHH regulations.
  • Standards and Guidance.


A significant feature of the surface engineering industry is the diversity of technology

Most of the companies in the UK operate in the sub-contractor sector, i.e. offering processing techniques to the original equipment manufacturer (OEM). The majority are small companies employing less than 50 people and specialise in specific processes. A number of large companies have their own ‘in-house’ processes, finishing their own manufactured components.

HSE’s contact with the industry is mainly through the Surface Engineering Association’s Health, Safety and Environmental Committee which, for over 10 years, has co-ordinated the interests and activities of all those involved with health and safety in the industry.

The HSE’s website reports that the industry has a lower over 3 day injury rate (for fatal, major and 3-day injuries) than manufacturing as a whole. Full details can be viewed at –

Contact the SEA

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If you are interested in joining the Surface Engineering Association or would like some further information about us that you cannot find on our website, then please complete the contact form and we will get back to you.


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