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Solvents placing workers at risk

15 April 2019

Solvent-handling practices across UK industry have been described as complacent and detrimental to employee health, by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA). 

Chemical-based solvents are used to dissolve or dilute substances, such as dirt and grease and are used in a variety of different processes in the food sector, including cleaning and degreasing.

Karen McDonnell, occupational health & safety policy adviser at RoSPA said: “Solvents can, most commonly, enter the body through breathing in vapours and fumes, if they come into contact with skin, or through contaminated work clothes. Most importantly, different solvents can produce a variety of medical effects, from irritation of the eyes, through to skin complaints, such as dermatitis, headache, nausea and light-headedness. RoSPA recommends keeping cleaning products containing toxic chemicals out of reach and ideally locked in a cupboard.”

Tom Sands, founder and CEO of Safe Solvents, believes that Health and Safety Executive guidelines are being routinely flouted: He said: “In our work we see poor solvent-handling practices all the time, resulting from a lack of understanding of the dangers and poor knowledge of the health and safety guidelines. All-too-often solvents are not locked away in a controlled area and PPE equipment, such as gloves, goggles and face shields are either not being provided to employees or are not being enforced by employers.
“The solution for industry is to either take the handling and use of solvents much more seriously, or alternatively convert their processes to safer water-based solvents that do not pose the same threat to employees.”

For more information on Safe Solvents range of water-based hydrocarbon-free solvents, please visit:

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