Workplace responsibility – Toxic parts cleaning solvents

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It is the responsibility of every workplace to be aware of all chemical toxins and hazards in order to evaluate and manage the risks to workers, and others who may be exposed. For every hazard identified there must be a plan for managing it.

Parts cleaning solvents may contain a range of particularly harmful substances that lead to a range of health issues such as skin irritations, breathing difficulties and cancer. They can also pose dangerous physical hazards such as a fire safety risk. Because parts cleaning is a common, routine task in a number of industries, it is important to understand how to reduce and remove the risks associated with these solvents.

The Australian Code of Practice provides business with a number of ways to control the risks associated with dangerous chemicals. Some control measures are more effective and reliable than others, so a Hierarchy of Action has been developed which ranks control activities from highest to lowest.

Hierarchy of action

When a chemical hazard is identified, this Hierarchy of Action must be followed to remove, reduce or manage the risk.

The steps below must be followed in descending order and cannot be skipped, without a reasonable explanation. For example, if a safer substitute is available, and it is cost effective and can reasonably be employed then this option must be taken instead of other actions lower down the table.

1. Eliminate the hazard – Chemical elimination is the best way to remove all risks associated with the use of a toxic solvent. Unfortunately this is rarely a reasonable option because parts cleaning is a vital task in some industries.

2. Substitution – Substituting toxic parts washing solvent for a safer alternative is the next best course of action. Finding a suitable product which does not contain hazardous ingredients makes for safer workplaces without affecting business processes.

3. Isolation – Isolating the parts cleaning function away from worker exposure is the next most effective course of action if an effective safer substitute is not available.

4. Engineering controls – these include sophisticated monitoring and ventilation systems to make sure exposure to dangerous solvents is managed to acceptable levels.

5. Administrative controls – Administrative controls include all formal training, labelling and workplace procedures relating to the use, transport, storage and disposal of dangerous solvents. These controls rely on human behaviour and are amongst the least effective at protecting workers.

6. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – Personal protective equipment is the last line of defence and the least effective at protecting workers. All other efforts must be made before visiting this option.

Safe chemical substitution

When completely eliminating a chemical hazard is not an option, safer product substitution is the next best step.

Purasolve Parts Cleaner is an effective substitution product developed to replace dangerous solvents for parts cleaning. It is a fully recyclable, low vapour, benzene free, high purity hydrocarbon degreasing solvent for use in parts washers and for metal cleaning.

Purasolve Parts Cleaner does not contain Trichloroethylene, Butyl Cellosolve, Bacteria, Caustics, Toluene, Acetone, MEK, or any other toxic or hazardous chemical.

Unlike Acetone and MEK, Purasolve Parts Cleaner has a low vapour pressure meaning it does not easily evaporate and is not an inhalation hazard under normal use. Low evaporation also leads to performance and cost benefits, with less product needed compared to high vapour pressure alternatives.

Purasolve Parts Cleaner has a high flash point making it non-flammable and non-explosive. It does not require complicated transportation, handling or storage procedures.

It is recommended that the product be used with Purasolve’s unique closed loop reclamation system that allows the product to be recycled and reused during the cleaning process for a minimum of 18 months.

To find out more about Purasolve Parts Cleaner click here, and to see our Parts Washers range click here.

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