Solvent Product Exposure that Causes Occupational Health Problems in the Workplace

Solvent products, containing one or more chemical liquids, are harmful for the body. They can irritate or damage the skin and even cause suffocation. More commonly used in diluting other chemical products, solvents can be found everywhere; among households, construction sites, automobile companies and such. They may be recognized in the form of lubricants, thinners and cleaning chemicals.

Each workplace is required to keep employees’ exposure to harmful substances at a minimum. Overexposure to solvents can cause serious health concerns. Accidents can also happen, which is why in companies that deal with the use of solvents; proper protective gear and outfits are a must. Wearing gloves, helmets, eye goggles and bodysuits are common safety precautions. Solvents commonly harm people physically by skin contact, eye contact and inhalation. Such occurrences cause symptoms like:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Skin irritation
  • Allergic reactions
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Eye contact can cause blindness
  • Skin contact may result in severe rashes

Overexposure, on the other hand, may show the same symptoms but is more hazardous to workers’ health. Symptoms vary depending on the type of solvent and may decrease after a few hours. However, the longer a person is exposed to the solvent, the longer the effects will take to wear off. In this case, persisting nausea and headaches can afflict proper functioning. For example; most accidents happen due to intoxication of alcohol; it is an obvious example of a solvent.

Long terms exposure damages the brain function, causing longer term or permanent symptoms such as:

  • Inability to focus
  • Insomnia
  • Personality disorders
  • Liver and kidney dysfunction
  • Infertility

Those who fall ill due to overexposure to solvents in their workplace may file a compensation claim from the company. To validate solvent intoxication, the employer/company must cover the required urinal analysis, blood testing and other tests in the patient’s check-up. This will provide information regarding the type of chemical the patient encountered, how much damage has been done and how it can be treated.

UK safety regulations indicate prevention as the first and foremost safety measure in every company. Areas, from which solvents are commonly used or produced, must be isolated from regular rooms. The following health and safety protocols are strictly required in every company:

  • Ventilation systems
  • Safety equipment
  • Cautionary guidelines
  • Warning signs
  • Control of hazardous substances
  • Proper training of employees
  • Health coverage
  • Chemical packaging/information
  • Work accident book

Work accident books are safety requirements in all companies in UK. They will provide detailed information for any minor or major injury suffered by the employee during his/her time in the workplace. This will also validate the worker’s application for work accident claims. Regardless of the severity; incidents that have caused or could have caused harm against the workers is best written in the book. Other employees witnessing an accident have a responsibility to report further details to the company.

Without these extra precaution and proper safety protocols, a company can be sued by victim or law under breach of Workplace Regulations 1992 and The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Immediate medical attention for the employee must be given by the company, as well as coverage of following health checks.