There are hazards intrinsic to adhesives and potential operational risks to working with adhesives in the manufacturing process. Avoiding such risks requires clear safety procedures, training, employee vigilance and an understanding of specific adhesive properties. All potentially harmful substances must be handled responsibly throughout their lifecycle starting with their manufacture to final recycling or disposal.
Flammability and explosiveness are properties mainly of solvent-based adhesives. Additionally, when using thermal adhesives such as hot melt glue, burns from contact with hot adhesive or equipment are a potential safety issue.
Many adhesives are a blend of different ingredients, some of which may cause skin irritations, provoke allergies or cause chemical burns. Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs, can enter a worker’s respiratory system causing direct irritation or absorption of toxins into the body. Toxins also have the potential to enter the environment where they can cause harm to plants, animals and humans outside the factory.
General Safety Measures
Workplaces in which toxic substances may enter the air must be equipped with air replenishment equipment and filtration to ensure that the level of VOCs does not reach toxic levels. Eating and drinking within the work area must be prohibited and employees should wear proper protective equipment, such as safety glasses and gloves and wash exposed skin when entering or exiting the work zone.
Ventilation is vital even with water-based solvents, to minimize toxin inhalation, as is the use of personal respiratory filters if necessary. Unnecessary solvent evaporation can be eliminated by using minimum amounts of adhesive and keeping solvent containers tightly sealed when not in use. Solvent-contaminated materials should not be left in the open. Product literature must be carefully studied for information on hazards specific to the particular solvent or adhesive being employed.
Employers are responsible for developing easily understood safety procedures for employees who work with industrial adhesives. Material Safety Data Sheets for each solvent or other chemical used in the manufacturing process must be posted where employees can access them at any time.
Employees are responsible for taking such education and information seriously for the sake of themselves and co-workers. Emergency and first aid procedures drills are recommended prior to an accident or health issue arising. Employees must be aware of early signs of toxicity such as headaches, dizziness, nausea or irritation of skin or difficulty in breathing. Burning, welding or sources of heat such as open lights should be eliminated when chlorinated solvents are used.
If any employee feels that their health is being affected or they do not understand a procedure or the risks of working with any material, they should consult their supervisor.
Adhesive Safety Is a Team Effort
Adhesive technology is revolutionizing many industrial processes with adhesives for hundreds of specific applications. Their safe use requires cooperation between manufacturers, industry and workers.
Bond Tech Industries, Inc. understands the application and safety issues of every adhesive products we carry, and we are pleased to consult with you concerning your application and manufacturing process in order to develop cost-efficient and safe solutions that meet your bonding requirements.