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Complacency over solvent risk placing workers at risk

Solvent-handling practices acrossUK industry have been described as complacent and detrimental to employee health.

The warning, from a leading provider of alternative, high-performance water-based solvents, comes in the wake of concerns over poor working practices and the potential health implications of using chemical-based industrial solvents.

Chemical-based solvents are used to dissolve or dilute substances, such as dirt and grease and are used in a variety of different processes, from cleaning and degreasing, through to paint removal.

Karen McDonnell, Occupational Health & Safety Policy Adviser at RoSPAcommented: “Solvents can, most commonly, enter the body through breathing in vapours and fumes,if they come into contact with skin, or through contaminated work clothes. Most importantly, different solvents can produce a variety of medical effects, from irritation of the eyes, through to skin complaints, such as dermatitis, headache, nausea and light-headedness.”

Tom Sands, Founder and CEO of Safe Solvents, believes that Health and Safety Executive guidelines are being routinely flouted: “In our work we see poor solvent-handling practices all the time, resulting from a lack of understanding of the dangers and poor knowledge of the health and safety guidelines. All-too-often solvents are not locked away in a controlled area and PPE equipment, such as gloves, goggles and face shields are either not being provided to employees or are not being enforced by employers.”

“RoSPA recommends keeping cleaning products containing toxic chemicals out of reach and ideally locked in a cupboard”, Karen said.

Tom continued: “With parts washing in particular, the use of solvents is often non-core for the end-user and is therefore relegated to being an afterthought in the basement of the premises, with little thought given to employee-risk assessment, such as the potential for skin contact or adequate ventilation to control vapours.

“The solution for industry is to either take the handling and use of solvents much more seriously, or alternatively convert their processes to safer water-based solvents that do not pose the same threat to employees.”

For more information on Safe Solvents range of water-based hydrocarbon-free solvents, please visit: www.safesolvents.co.uk.

Press Enquiries: Andy Williams / Joe Moore WPR

Andy@wpragency.co.uk / Joe@wpragency.co.uk 0121 456 3004

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