Exposure to hazardous substances within the workplace
Today we will be discussing our most recent project in London. We were called by our client and they requested we attend their site and conduct an assessment of occupational exposure to hazardous substances. The site was an architectural design studio which had a dedicated model workshop which was located on the 14th floor of an administrative building. The model workshop is fully enclosed and has its own dedicated extraction system mounted to the ceiling. Further ventilation is provided by a building wide BMS system with ventilation units in the model shop being fitted with specialised filters.
Approximately 5 employees are employed to work in the model workshop and their exposure time during a working day is expected to be 8 hours. Typical activities in the model shop include computer design of the models and the assembly of the models using a variety of tools, materials, paints and glues. Small quantities of wood and plastic based materials are used by the designers to cut out individual elements of the design. Once components of the models are cut, the pieces are then glued together and painted to produce the final model piece.
Calculating daily personal exposure
Our surveyor begun the assessment by fitting employees with Cassella and Gillian personal samplers. Employees then completed their typical daily activities while wearing the personal samplers which collected airborne vapours. Once completing their daily activities we are able to evaluate the results collected by the personal samplers and work out the daily exposure of the employees to hazardous substances.
Our Conclusions and recommendations to minimise exposure
On completion of our assessment our surveyor was able to conclude that the employees working in the model workshop are unlikely to be exposed to levels of 2-ethyl cyanoacrylate, dichloromethane and other volatiles above the workplace exposure limits (WELs). The assessment indicated that the exposure of employees to the aforementioned contaminants is not considered to be significant. Due to this the use of respiratory protective equipment is not required during work in the model workshop however we strongly recommend that respiratory protective equipment is used when working in the spray booth and the RPE used should be suitable for protection from particulates and volatile fumes. A formal health surveillance programme is not required however all employees should be trained on health risks from hazardous substances in the workplace, control measures, their use and maintenance. Refresher training should then be provided annually or if circumstances within the workplace change.