Powder Coaters

Isocyanate Health Surveillance

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.

Isocyanate Health Monitoring - How Often?

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:

Code of Practice

Safe Work Australia reviewed the model Code Code of Practice for Spray Painting and Powder Coating. 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.

Isocyanate Health Risks

There are serious health effects associated with occupational exposure to isocyanates. 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:

  • occupational asthma
  • irritation of the skin (dermatitis)
  • irriation of the mucous membranes (eyes, nose, and throat)
  • hypersensitivity
  • pneumonitis and
  • chest tightness.

Isocyanates include compounds also classified as potential human carcinogens (cancer causing compounds) and are known to cause cancer in animals.

Who is Exposed to Isocyanates?

Paints, varnishes and epoxy solvents now often contain a family of highly reactive chemicals known as isocyanates.

Jobs that often involve exposure to isocyanates include:

  • painting and powder coating
  • blowing foam insulation
  • manufacture and thermal degradation of many polyurethane products such as polyurethane foam, insulation materials,surface coatings, car seats, furniture, foam mattresses, under-carpet padding, packaging materials, shoes, laminated fabrics, polyurethane rubber, and adhesives.

Powdercoaters Safety

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.

Risk to Powdercoaters

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

  1. workplaces where isocyanates are mixed with a resin and then sprayed to produce an insulating foam – droplets containing isocyanates are the main hazard because they can be inhaled and absorbed by the body
  2. workplaces where TDI is mixed with resins in the manufacture of foam – isocyanate vapours released during mixing and curing are the main hazard, and
  3. workplaces where two-part polyurethane paints are sprayed, most typically in the painting of motor vehicles.

What an employer needs to do

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.

Learn about our health monitoring systems.