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COSHH Printing Process Chemicals and Health Effects

16 January 2014

Bethan Stones headshot

Bethan Stones

Group Marketing Manager

COSHH Printing Process Chemicals

Chemicals In Printing Can Be Harmful

Many chemicals are used in the printing industry including inks, adhesives, lacquers and cleaning solvents. All of which can cause various levels of ill health if workers or employees are exposed to them.

Various vapours and mists can be inhaled and chemicals can cause skin problems or further damage to other body parts if absorbed into or just in contact with a person’s skin.

Health Effects Of Chemicals Used In Printing

Process: Etching, Engraving, Platemaking, Photographic Reproduction
Risk: Nitric, sulphuric and hydrofluoric acids can cause skin burns, eye damage and blisters.

Process: Concentrated photographic developer or fixer solutions
Risk: Acidic salt solutions and Hydroquinone can irritate eyes and even cause dermatitis

Process: Adhesive laminating
Risk: Isocyanate prepolymers can cause an irritation of the airways and lungs leading to occupational asthma.

Process: UV and infra red curable inks, varnishes and lacquers
Risk: Reactive acrylates or methacrylate’s can cause corrosion of the skin, eyes and mucous membranes.

Process: UV lamps for photo processing, UV curing and high speed printing – ink misting
Risk: Fumes can cause irritation of respiratory tracts with the potential for occupational asthma as well as severe headaches and nausea.

Process: Lithographic platemaking, Gravure cylinder preparation and photoengraving.
Risk: Ammonium, potassium and sodium dichromate’s are all very corrosive and can cause deep ulcers as well as a risk of cancer.

Process: Lithographic fount solution, blanket restorers, cleaning solvents, Gravure and flexographic
Risk: Alcohol, Esters and Ketones can cause dermatitis, dizziness and other effects of the central nervous system.

Process: Flexographic, Dyeline Printing and Screen Inks
Risk: Perchloroethylene, Ammonium hydroxide and Ketones can cause dizziness, drowsiness and other effects on the central nervous system via inhalation.

Process: Screen Cleaning chemicals
Risk: Strong alkalis such as concentrated sodium or potassium hydroxide,
Oxidisers and sodium hypochlorite solvents can cause corrosion of the skin, eyes and mucous membrane as well as dizziness and drowsiness

Process: Digital (ink-jet) printing
Risk: Methyl ethyl ketone and propanol can cause abnormal heart rhythm and rate and can affect the liver and kidneys on long term exposure.

How To Limit Exposure Of Chemicals In Printing

The law, called Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH), requires you to adequately Control Exposure to materials in the workplace that cause ill health by identifying which harmful substances may be present in the workplace, deciding how workers might be exposed to them and be harmed. Then to look at what measures are in place to prevent this harm and deciding whether you as a company are doing enough to prevent it.

You must then provide relevant information, instruction and training to your staff and in appropriate cases, provide Health Surveillance.

For more information please read the COSHH Essentials For Printers guidance from the Health and Safety Executive.

Envirocare Are Experts In COSHH Printing Process Risk Assessments And Air Monitoring

Envirocare is a leading Occupational Hygiene and Health and Safety services provider with over 20 years of experience throughout the UK. We offer comprehensive workplace air monitoring and COSHH printing process risk assessment advice to ensure compliance with the relevant exposure limits.

Envirocare will aid your COSHH Risk Assessment by carrying out air monitoring to determine the levels of substances in the workplace as well as ensure the WEL value is not exceeded for the substances you use. We will also provide a detailed report on work practices and findings together with recommendations for remedial action.

We currently service a wide range of clients within the printing industry. This experience allows us to conduct Air Monitoring and a COSHH printing process risk assessment that are relevant and appropriate to any printing process with practical solutions to suit.

Visit our COSHH Service page for more details or simply call us on 01274 738668 or even fill out our Envirocare Enquiry Form for any queries.