OHS package for printers

The Australian Safety and Compensation Council (ASCC) has released a web based
package of practical guidance materials (Essential Chemical Controls for
Printers) to assist the printing industry with the control of hazardous

Launched at Melbourne's RMIT print facilities by ASCC chairman Bill Scales and
Printing Industry Association of Australia chief executive, Philip Anderson,
this workplace health guidance package is the first of its kind in Australia
and the result of a long term collaborative partnership between industry,
unions and government. It provides simple step by step guidance to help
printing companies undertake chemical hazard identification, risk assessment
and control.

"Use of this guidance material will be a significant step in protecting
workplace health where hazardous chemicals are used. The package provides
extensive information on how to prevent or control exposures, and offers advice
on the use of chemicals, equipment, health surveillance and training within the
printing industry.

"While the package has been specifically developed for printers, it will also
be useful for occupational hygienists, inspectors and chemical suppliers,"
Scales said.

The information is intended to help printing companies comply with those parts
of the regulations for managing workplace hazardous chemicals which are
designed to protect the health of workers, by managing potential exposure of
workers to prevent risk to health.

It is useful information for employees, employers, health and safety
representatives, regulators, occupational hygienists, chemicals suppliers and
other people who are involved in protecting the health of printing workers.

Essential Chemical Controls for Australian Printers has been developed by
members of the Australian Safety and Compensation Council (ASCC), in
conjunction with the Printing Industries Association of Australia (PIAA). We
modified and built on the UK's COSHH Essentials for Printers package, for
Australian use.

Following the guidance is not compulsory and you are free to take other action.
However, application of the guidance can make a major contribution to
protecting the health of workers in those businesses which are currently
experiencing difficulties in managing hazardous chemicals. Health and safety
inspectors seek to secure compliance with regulations, and may refer to this
guidance as illustrating good practice.

First time users are advised to follow all the steps in the process outlined in
the package. However, experienced users may wish to simply select and download
the right control guidance sheet(s) for the printing process or task that they
are examining and follow the advice given in the sheet(s). When examining the
guidance, include operators and maintenance personnel if possible in the work.
Consultation with employees is a legislative requirement, and will help you
make appropriate assessments.

An Assessment Table is provided to help you to work through the package. The
blank table can be saved on your computer, and you can fill it in as you work
through the assessment of operations. The completed table should be saved as a
record of your assessment.

Get up-to-date Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) from the product suppliers.
The MSDS should provide relevant information on health hazards, and Essential
Chemical Controls for Australian Printers provides guidance to control these
hazards. However, the MSDS should also tell you about safety hazards, eg
flammability and reactivity, and environmental hazards. Safety or environmental
hazards will sometimes need other controls to those used for health hazards.

Check that the workroom is properly ventilated, that any extraction (local
exhaust ventilation) is working, that Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is
used correctly and that workers are following guidance for personal hygiene.

Ensure that health surveillance is carried out for everyone who needs it in
line with state and territory regulations. Inform employees of the purpose,
requirements and procedures for health surveillance.

Ensure that all containers containing chemicals are properly labeled, including
any relevant risk phrases and safety phrases. This includes hazardous chemicals
which are decanted and are not used up immediately, which should also be
labeled with the product name and the risk and safety phrases.

Controlling exposures

If you can substitute the chemicals you're using with less hazardous ones which
still do the job effectively, it'll help prevent health problems.

By following all the advice in the right control guidance sheets for your
process and jobs, you will normally comply with Australian National Exposure
Standards for the chemicals used. Read the advice in all of the sheet(s) you
downloaded. Compare it with what you do now. But before acting, make sure the
advice really fits your situation.

All activities and controls that prevent exposure for workers need to work
effectively. This covers mechanical or engineering controls eg fume extraction
equipment (local exhaust ventilation), PPE (eg protective gloves),
administrative controls (eg supervision & training) and operators following
standard practices.

Compare your controls with those in the guidance sheets, and then produce an
action plan to prioritise work to fill any gaps. Decide how best to make any
changes required. Look at all aspects of the advice - the points work together
to provide 'adequate control'.

You may already have the right controls in place. But, when was the equipment
last checked and is it working properly? Is it always used when needed?

Skin exposure

A major health risk in printing can be caused by contact of chemicals with
skin. Chemicals used in printing can damage the skin and eyes. Skin contact is
common, and once hands are contaminated, touching or scratching spreads
contamination to other parts of the skin or into the mouth.

The range of options to minimise skin contact are:

  • modify the process - minimise handling

  • change the physical form of chemicals ­ to granules from dusty powders, or to
    pastes - from liquids

  • use personal protective equipment

  • segregate clean and dirty areas to reduce the spread of contamination

  • provide smooth, impervious, easily cleaned surfaces

  • wipe ink containers clean after use

  • launder work clothing regularly

  • tell workers about the risk and how to follow good personal hygiene

  • plan how to deal with spillages swiftly and safely

Protective gloves

Provide the type of glove suggested in the relevant control guidance sheet. If
you must use latex gloves, then use only 'low-protein, powder-free' gloves.

Gloves are tested for up to eight hours' protection against chemical
permeation. However, wear and tear, stretching and abrasion are not part of
this test.

Throw away chemical protective gloves at the end of the shift and 'single-use'
gloves whenever they are taken off. Dispose of gloves as hazardous waste.

Coated gloves with a knitted liner provide only splash protection. Chemicals
can 'wick' through such gloves and those with knitted cuffs, onto exposed skin
within seconds of exposure.

'Maintenance' of chemical protective gloves

In general, you cannot 'maintain' gloves. They nearly always become
contaminated inside, particularly the second time they are put on.They may look
undamaged and clean inside, but they won't be. Single-use gloves might offer
better protection!

Training and supervision

Warn workers about the chemical hazards, and make copies of the suppliers' MSDS
accessible to workers. Remind them about dermatitis regularly, provide training
on how to handle chemicals, how to use the exposure controls (including the
required PPE) and how to deal with spills, and provide training on skin checks
and skin care.

Do your workers know how to take off or put on contaminated gloves safely? See
the Glove Posters for guidance. Ask the glove supplier for training on how to
put on and take off protective gloves. Can you designate an area for putting on
and taking off gloves and other protective equipment?

Maintain records of induction and training, and these records should be kept
for at least five years from the date of the last entry in them.

Seek expert help if you are in doubt.

More info

AplusA-online.de - Source: Australian Safety and Compensation Council (ASCC)