12:26 pm, Friday 19 October, 2012
WorkCover NSW issued a new safety alert on the adverse health effects of volatile solvents and thinners following the death of a young worker when he inhaled solvent vapours and his skin absorbed solvent resulting to cardiac arrhythmias.
According to the safety alert issued, “all volatile solvents have the potential to cause a person to lose consciousness, and suffer a cardiac arrhythmia and possibly death when used in an enclosed or poorly ventilated area.”
“Toluene xylene, hexane, methyl ethyl ketone, naphthalene, and other petroleum-based solvents have been implicated in deaths. Other chemicals present in propriety thinners can greatly increase skin absorption causing or exacerbating toxic effects,” says the report.
WorkCover NSW requires the following action to be taken by a person controlling a business or undertaking:
- Manage the risk to health and safety associated when using, handling, generating or storing a hazardous chemical at a workplace, as outlined in clause 351 of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 (WHS Regulation).
- Ensure that information, training and instruction on the risks associated with the use of volatile solvents and thinners is provided to workers, as outlined in clause 39 of the WHS Regulation.
- Ensure that a current safety data sheet (SDS) is readily accessible to any worker who uses a hazardous chemical, as outlined in clause 344 of the WHS Regulation.
- Ensure that no-one at the workplace is exposed to airborne concentrations of hazardous chemicals that exceed the exposure standard, as outlined in clause 49 of the WHS Regulation.
- Provide appropriate PPE, as per the requirements of clauses 44-47 of the WHS Regulation.
- Ensure there are no ignition sources present, such as lighting or electrical equipment that is not designed for safe use in hazardous atmospheres, as outlined in clauses 51, 52 and 355 of the WHS Regulation.
- Follow the requirements outlined in clauses 62-77 of the WHS Regulation if the work is undertaken in a confined space.
More information on working safely with solvents and thinners is available on the WorkCover website.