In the 1970’s Jet-Lube Lubricants Ltd in Maidenhead, UK., were expanding their manufacture of oilfield thread compounds. These compounds use a combination of grease and powders, the latter prevent metal-to-metal contact between drill pipes, rods, casing and tubing.
The powders included copper, zinc and lead. This raised a health and safety concern of harmful and potentially toxic dust clouds being inhaled by the operators. To remedy this, Tom Ryland, the Managing Director introduced the vacuum handling system to all the oilfield compound mixers. The manufacturer also removed lead from the formulae in the 1990’s on environmental grounds.
The system ran for over thirty years with lead levels in the annual blood tests remaining consistently within safe limits. The only significant upgrade to the system was replacing the manually shaken filter unit with an automatic reverse-jet filter.