Home > Safety Focus: Risk control measures for businesses that work with cleaning solvents and thinners

Safety Focus: Risk control measures for businesses that work with cleaning solvents and thinners

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article image Tennant's ec-H20 technology has been scientifically proven to clean with the same or better results as traditional cleaning detergents
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So far in this series, we have discussed the risks associated with exposure to hazardous chemicals in cleaning solvents and thinners, and a number of measures business owners must take to ensure workers are protected from immediate harm.

Here, we will consider a number of risk control measures provided by WorkCover NSW , before mentioning another option for ensuring workers are appropriately trained, this time in the event that a dangerous chemical spill occurs.

As distinct from the initial recommendations discussed in the first part of this series, some of the risk control measures below may not be applicable to every workplace, however it is advisable to consider each in turn to assess their viability for a given application.

WorkCover suggests that businesses:
  • substitute the solvent-based cleaner with a water-based cleaner
  • ensure there is enough ventilation to keep the solvent vapours below the Australian Exposure Standard (ES)
  • read the SDS to determine what PPE is necessary to prevent absorption, and what engineering controls are appropriate
  • train workers on how to use PPE
  • for areas that are enclosed or partially enclosed, stand outside the area and use a long-handled mop to clean the confined area; and
  • ensure there are no ignition sources when using solvents in an enclosed or partially enclosed area, as there is potential for creating a hazardous atmosphere.
As to the suggestion that business substitute a solvent-based cleaner with a water-based one, this again may not be appropriate for every business, especially those in more demanding industrial environments. For environments where this measure may be a viable option, maintenance equipment supplier Tennant has provided a solution with the development of its ec-H20 cleaning technology.

Tennant's patented ec-H20 technology electrically converts water into a superior cleaning solution which the company states:
  • cleans better
  • saves money
  • improves safety; and
  • reduces environmental impact compared to traditional cleaning chemicals and methods.
It has been scientifically proven to clean with the same or better results as traditional cleaning detergents, as confirmed by a third party study conducted by the Aspen Research Corporation. A separate study undertaken by Elliot confirmed that it removes 5% more organic material and 5% more bacteria than scrubbing with detergents.

While we did discuss training with regard to safe chemical handling earlier in this series, we neglected to mention spill response training, another important consideration for any workplace that deals with hazardous chemicals.

Ecospill offers a comprehensive range of spill response training courses, including:
  • basic spill kit induction
  • spill response training course
  • short course in spill response management (Nationally Accredited Training); and
  • a Certificate IV: Management in Environment and Safety Practices
The company's general spill kit induction course gives participants a basic understanding of a spill kit and how to use it in a spill situation, and is ideal for any employee who may need to use a spill kit.

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