Occupational exposure to chemicals hazardous to health
Heanor, Derbyshire was home to our most recent project. Our client asked us to attend their site with the intention of carrying out an inspection of the site and chemical exposure testing. Daily tasks in the factory include printing, this process involves the use of a solvent containing product ZC521.
Our lead surveyor attended the site with a variety of equipment needed to measure the employees’ daily personal exposure to chemicals hazardous to health. He brought along two personal samplers which he attached to the lapels of the printing operatives clothing for the duration of their 8 hour working day. The personal samplers took measurements of the hazardous substances the operatives were exposed to while carrying out typical tasks. A static sample was collected I the centre of the printing area in order to evaluate the ambient solvent vapour levels. A further three samples were also collected at the perimeter of the EB pack-shrink and thermal binding areas to evaluate the likely exposure to the employees working in this area. Finally we used a Low flow adapter fitted with TENAX sorbent tubes to collect for volatile organic compounds.
What did these samples reveal?
The assessment of the samples we collected for volatile organic compounds indicated that the average concentration present in the working area ranged between 5.6 and 27 mg/m. Therefore the employee’s occupational exposure from solvents during printing is well below the assigned workplace exposure limits (WELs). Due to this the use of respiratory protection is not necessary, neither is a formal health surveillance of the printing technicians in respect to solvent exposure from printing. All employees working in the EB pack – shrink and thermal binding areas are unlikely to be exposed to solvents that exceed the workplace exposure limits.
Recommendations to minimise exposure
An assessment of the airflow within the working environment suggested that there was an area of relatively stagnant air. In order to improve the indoor air quality by means of general ventilation, our surveyor recommended that fresh air supply is installed in the area. The fresh air supply should be installed on the south wall of the factory and the general ventilation extraction systems are positioned on the north wall of the building. This should encourage more fresh air into the building, preventing the presence of stagnant air.