Prevention and safety

Exposure Prevention

Your employer is responsible for taking all possible measures to prevent you from being exposed to solvents.
There are several ways to help prevent exposure:

Eliminate or Substitute
Investigate whether a solvent can be substituted for a less harmful one or whether the job can be done differently so that exposure is either minimised or eliminated.

Control the Environment
Where possible control exposure by employing mechanical/automated handling methods. Local exhaust ventilation in the area where the solvent is used, isolating the area in which the solvent is used and general ventilation to dilute the workplace air are other options.

Administrative Measures
Minimise exposure by preventing entry to high solvent areas or highlighting high solvent areas by sign posting.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Use Personal Protective Equipment specific to the solvent/chemical you are using. This should include protective clothing to cover all exposed parts of the body and personal clothing, gloves, eye protection and suitable respirators.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

When choosing PPE it is important to understand the type of solvent/chemical you are working with, particularly when deciding on respirator and glove types. For example natural latex gloves (the most commonly purchased and available type) are ineffective when working with turpentine, similarly a common dust mask is ineffective when working with any substance that produces organic solvent vapours.

Protective Gloves
There are four main types of protective gloves – natural latex, neoprene, nitrile and PVC. Even when classed as suitable for use with a particular solvent or chemical, it is important to be aware that the effectiveness of the glove is determined by the length of time of use and amount of direct exposure to the solvent/chemical.
For a list of common solvents/chemicals and the recommended gloves to use, visit the NZ Safety Hand Protection page and click on the Chemical Resistance Chart.

Respirators
Like gloves, it is important to use the correct type of respirator for the solvent/chemical you are working with. There are three main types of respirator – air purifying respirators, self-contained breathing apparatus and supplied air respirators. As well as having the right type and fit of respirators it is important to use the correct filters. The effectiveness of the filters depends on the concentration of the solvent vapour in the air. At any level there will be a point at which the filters become saturated and no longer able to absorb the gas. It is important to remember this, particularly in high vapour areas, and why it is critical to replace filters at recommended intervals.

For more information about choosing a respirator and a list of recommended filters visit the NZ Safety Respiratory Protection page.

If you are ever unsure about which PPE to use contact SafeLine on 0800 100 014.
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