Epoxy coating systems have become hugely popular over the years because of their strength, durability, aesthetic value, and resistance to caustic chemicals and heat. However, if they’re not properly handled, they could pose potential risks to those who are applying the coatings. Upon direct contact with the epoxy or inhalation of its toxic fumes, an individual may exhibit difficulty in breathing due to allergic reactions, as well as irritation to the nose, throat, lungs, eye, and skin. Moreover, the longer the exposure to the epoxy, the more likely it leads to an injury or a serious illness.
Although the degree of harm caused by the improper handling of these chemical compounds is largely influenced by the duration as well as the type of exposure, applicators can take the necessary safety precautions that will mitigate the risks. Some of these precautions include ensuring proper ventilation and hygiene, best work practices, and the use of personal protective equipment.
Ensure Proper Ventilation
Resolving any safety concern is the first thing any applicator should do. In most cases, epoxy systems require enough ventilation during the application process. By doing so, the buildup of harmful chemical vapors will be avoided within the area. This can be easily done when exhaust ventilation is done locally throughout the entire process – starting from the phase when the surface is being prepared. Thanks to local exhaust ventilation systems, dust produced from operating floor grinders as well as sanders will be captured immediately even before it settles on the work area.read more about exhaust ventilation at https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/local-exhaust-ventilation
Use the Best Work Practices
Exposure to epoxy coatings can be further mitigated if the applicator follows the best work practices. For instance, the epoxies should be mixed and poured using disposable containers and not bowls. This will significantly reduce the applicator’s exposure to the chemical compounds during clean-up. Another way of reducing chemical handling is to use resins and hardeners that can be mixed together before the applicator opens the bags. Other best practices include promptly wiping up spills using absorbent materials and disposing these materials in closed containers, keeping the work area clean and tidy, making sure that unused chemical containers are covered tightly and work tools are thoroughly cleaned after use, and providing proper housekeeping supplies, as well as a changing area for the workers that allows them to separate their work clothes from their street clothes.
Follow the Manufacturer’s Recommendation on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
It’s extremely important for applicators to follow the PPE recommendations of epoxy product manufacturers when they handle, mix, and apply the chemicals. Their general recommendations for PPE include the use of chemical goggles, gloves, coveralls, protective sleeves, aprons, boots, and respirators. Furthermore, all pieces of jewelry must be removed and the applicator must change into clean clothes after the shift ends.
Aside from protecting the applicator from potential health threats by reducing exposure to toxic chemicals, another ultimate goal is to ensure that the possibility of spreading traces of epoxies outside the work areas is avoided. Furthermore, the applicator must consult a safety professional if questions and concerns pertaining to these practices and guidelines need to be addressed.