Previously there was one specific directive for thermosetting plastics that clearly stated the requirements for people working with these products. This directive has now been merged with other documents and information on thermosetting plastics is now found under various headings such as chemical risks to health and safety, occupational medical examinations and exposure limits. With these changes, certain must requirements disappeared and were replaced by more general rules which state that the employer must provide sufficient safety for the use of two-component paints. In the case of some thermosetting plastics, such as epoxy, there are still a number of detailed requirements that must be followed.
Here are some of them, taken from the Work Environment Authority brochure, “Work right with epoxy”:
• Work with epoxy products may only be supervised and carried out by people who have been given specific training for such work beforehand. You must be able to provide proof of such training with a certificate not older than five years.
• People who work with epoxy must be offered a medical examination before starting work. Read more about occupational medical examinations, AFS 2005:6, Sections 32-38, AFS 2015:3, and Chemical risks to health and safety, AFS 2014:43, Sections 37 f-g.
• Use disposable long-sleeved protective clothing and gloves so that all your skin is protected.
• What type of protective gloves should be used depends on how long you are exposed to epoxy products. The product data sheet that comes with protective gloves must clearly state what chemicals they protect against and for how long. Wear thin cotton gloves under the protective glove and disposable gloves over the protective gloves. As soon as the disposable gloves become sticky they must be replaced.
• If there is any risk of products splashing into the eyes, protective goggles or a visor must be used. Eye wash must be available in case an accident happens. Rinse your eyes and get medical help.
• Protect your lungs. Dust from epoxy products not fully hardened is allergenic. Sanding dust from epoxy products can be harmful to the respiratory system. Use local air extractors or if that is not possible, respiratory protection with the right filter when sanding. At high temperatures, such as contact with hot surfaces, epoxy can give off toxic gases.