Employees Health provide onsite isocyanate health monitoring all around Australia. We conduct these health assessments, as per WorkSafe requirements, for workers exposed to isocyanates in the workplace.
Due to the health issues associated with isocyanate exposure, there is legislation governed by Worksafe requiring persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) to initiate a Health Surveillance (monitoring) program for workers exposed to these chemicals in the workplace.
In the automotive industry this is often referred to as spray painter health monitoring. Work Health Professionals work with Motor Trade Australia WA to help their members manage their OHS requirements for spray painters, as well as noise exposure hazards and audiometric testing for panel beaters.
Each isocyanate health assessment includes a:
It can usually be done in 20-30 minutes, and is required every 6-12 months pending health assessment outcomes – more frequently for employees new to the role. Early recognition of employee sensitisation to isocyanates is essential to reduce the risk of long-term or permanent respiratory problems.
We recommend that the https://www.safework.nsw.gov.au/about-us/safework-nsw-regulatory-priorities-2023 Regulatory Guidelines, Safework should be followed when establishing the regularity of health surveillance. There is also their more recent guide to handling isocynates that recommends the following:
If a worker’s results are abnormal or significantly changed from a previous assessment, they may be recommended for a follow up assessment to investigate possible health issues.
Safe Work Australia reviewed the model Code Code of Practice for workers in the Paint manufacturing Industry. For all automotive body repair employers and paint and panel workshops, there is a WorkSafe responsibility to initiate an isocyanate Health Surveillance program to minimise the risk of permanent health damage to their spray painters.
There are serious health effects associated with occupational exposure to isocyanates. Diligent use of personal protective equipment and safe working practices is needed to ensure spray painters and powder coaters minimise the risk of permanent health damage.
The greatest risks are from inhaling vapours, fine droplets (aerosols) and dusts containing Isocyanates, as they irritate the linings of the nose, throat, lungs and eyes. The health effects include:
Isocyanates include compounds also classified as potential human carcinogens (cancer causing compounds) and are known to cause cancer in animals.
The greatest risks are from inhaling vapours, fine droplets (aerosols) and dusts containing Isocyanates, as they irritate the linings of the nose, throat, lungs and eyes. People exposed to Isocyanates at work are at greater risk of developing respiratory problems, such as asthma, if they breathe in isocyanate vapours or droplets of resin spray. There is also a risk of skin conditions if there is regular skin contact with isocyanates.
All isocyanates are hazardous substances and require care when handling. Paints, varnishes and epoxy solvents now often contain a family of highly reactive chemicals known as isocyanates.
People exposed to isocyanates at work are at greater risk of developing respiratory problems, such as asthma, if they breathe in isocyanate vapours or droplets of resin spray.
There is also a risk of skin conditions if there is regular skin contact with isocyanates.
Jobs that often involve exposure to isocyanates include:
Preventing exposure to isocyanates is the critical step in reducing the health hazard. Engineering controls such as closed systems and ventilation should be the principal method for minimizing exposure. Other controls, such as worker isolation, personal protective clothing and safety equipment are also necessary.
Exposure to hazardous chemicals is a significant risk in spray painting and powder coating activities including during preparation (preparing surfaces, tinting, mixing and pouring paints), storage, clean-up and disposal. The hazardous chemicals that workers may be exposed to include paints, solvents, powders, lacquers, paint strippers, adhesives, surface preparation products, rust converters and rust removers.
Worksafe can review your Health Surveillance program to ensure you are meeting your WorkSafe Isocyanate health surveillance requirements.
Those at greatest risk include those who work with spraying isocyanates and volatile isocyanates such as tolulene diisocyanate (TDI).
Three types of workplaces stand out as having the highest risk of isocyanate exposure in Australia
The Occupational Health and Safety Act 2011, says that you should provide and maintain a work environment in which your employees are not exposed to hazards. This includes training, information, supervision and personal protective clothing and equipment.
When hazardous substances are used in the workplace, there are specific requirements covering things such as:
Employers, main contractors and self employed people must ensure that no person at the workplace is exposed to concentrations of isocyanates above the occupational exposure standard.
Isocyanates are a group of chemicals used in the manufacture of polyurethane plastics, synthetic rubbers, foams, paints, varnishes and adhesives.
The largest volume use of isocyanates is in the production of polyurethane foams. Isocyanate pre-polymers are included in polyurethane paint formulations which, after curing, form durable films.
Isocyanate polymers may also be present in paints including:
Exposure to isocyanates can occur when aerosols or dusts containing isocyanates are released into the atmosphere during spraying. Exposure to isocyanates can also occur during sanding of polyurethane paint that is not fully cured, as this activity can generate dusts containing un-reacted isocyanates. Further, isocyanate-containing materials may release isocyanates into the atmosphere when