Formaldehyde is a colourless, strong-smelling chemical that is commonly used in the manufacturing of building materials and numerous other products. Those products include chemicals, particle board, household products, glues, permanent press fabrics, paper product coatings, fibreboard and plywood. It is also widely used as an industrial fungicide, germicide and disinfectant.
Here are some precautions your business can take to protect workers from harm while working with formaldehyde:
Formaldehyde is a sensitizing agent that can cause a negative response in your immune system upon initial exposure.
When exposure is severe, it causes a strong irritation to the eyes, nose and throat, and can make you cough and wheeze. This reaction can be more serious for those with asthma.
Further exposure may cause a severe allergic reaction of the skin, eyes and respiratory tract. It is also linked with nasal and lung cancer. Beyond that, ingestion of formaldehyde can be fatal. When exposure is in excess of 100 parts per million (ppm), there is an immediate danger to your life.
Workers can inhale formaldehyde as a gas or vapour, or absorb it through the skin in liquid form. You can also be exposed during the treatment of textiles and production of resins, or during the manufacturing of any of the products listed above.
- Label all mixtures or solutions that are composed of greater than 0.1 per cent formaldehyde and materials capable of releasing the gas into the air at concentrations at or above 0.1 ppm. For all materials capable of releasing formaldehyde at levels above 0.5 ppm during normal use, the label must contain the words “potential cancer hazard.”
- Select, maintain and wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), such as long sleeves, gloves, aprons, a respirator or mask and chemical splash goggles to prevent skin and eye contact.
- Know where showers and eyewash stations are located in the workplace in case you are exposed to formaldehyde.
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Due to the amount of health hazards for handling toxic chemicals, it is best to create safety and protective policies with extra caution to protect both your employees and your company.
Download your own copy of our "Manufacturing Risks: Formaldehyde Safety" info sheet for free so you can better understand how to protect your assets and manage risks: