Textile industry consumes a large number of chemicals in the processing and manufacturing of textiles, especially the wet processing of textiles. There are many accidents arising each year from the exposure to chemicals used in textile mills. Thus it is important have a chemical safety program implemented in a factory to prevent accidents and minimise the risks of chemical hazards. There are numerous health and safety issues that are associated with processes such as fiber synthesis, weaving, wet processing (desizing, scouring, bleaching, dyeing and finishing) and laundry operations.
The present article highlights some of the key elements of chemical safety program needed for textile industry.
The various risks from chemical exposure are adverse effects such as carcinogenic, mutagenic, reprotoxic due chemical exposure; musculoskeletal disorders from physical work; nausea, respiratory problems, headaches, watering of eyes from volatile chemicals released during the processes. The other accidental risks may involve fire hazards, steam releases under high pressure and explosion.
Some of the risks and processes/chemicals associated with chemicals used in textiles are:
- Eye irritation, Skin burns, respiratory problems from chemicals such as H2O2, Hypochlorite, Caustic soda, Ammonia, Acids, Solvents.
- Dusting (causing asthma), carcinogenic amines, allergens from dyes, reducing agents, acids and alkalis.
- Flammability and long- term health hazards from solvents, resins, softeners, etc.
- Respiratory problems from gas fumes, small fibres from singeing process.
How will you manage risks from chemicals used in textile industry?
To manage risks, the first thing is to identify the hazards that could give rise to risks, followed by eliminating the risks as practicable. If it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate the risk then minimise the risk. Implementing control measure is one of the important step in managing risks in a factory.
It is important to remember – if you are not competent of any aspect of managing chemicals safely in your workplace, you must involve a competent person who can guide you on understanding the key elements of chemicals management.
There are three basic steps for managing risks of chemicals:
- Identify the chemicals you have in your workplace and the hazards associated with them.
- Assessing the risks from chemicals used in processes and workplace.
- Control measures to mitigate risk: Include various recognized control measures to eliminate or reduce the risks.
While managing risks following factors should be taken into considerations:
- Intrinsic hazardous properties of chemicals used in the processes and workplace.
- Potentially hazardous reaction between two chemicals (for example, sodium hydrosulphite when it comes in contact with moisture, can lead to a high risk of explosion or fire since it generates oxygen for combustion based on a chemical reaction with moisture.
- Workplace activities associated with hazardous chemical
The control measures are required to be implemented in a factory to ensure chemical safety. The recommended hierarchy of control measures is given here a guideline.
- Eliminate the hazardous chemical
- Substitute with a less hazardous chemical
- Install engineering controls
- Put administrative controls in place
- Use personal protective equipment (PPE)
Where can you find information about chemical hazards?
The most important sources of information on the hazards of your chemicals are the label and the safety data sheet (SDS).
Labels: It should be ensured that any chemical is supplied with a label attached on container. The label gives information on the chemical or product name, the chemical hazards and the precautions you should take into account to ensure safe handling and use.
Safety Data Sheets (SDS): It is must to have a SDS for each hazardous chemical that is used in the process and workplace. It is your duty to ensure that chemical supplier provides you an SDS for chemical product. These SDSs should be kept at identifiable place where it can be accessed from employees and emergency services in case of chemical accident.
You must ensure that all employees are aware of where the SDSs are stored and they have read and understood the SDS. The management should ensure that periodic trainings are conducted to impart knowledge on Safety Data Sheet and how to interpret the same for hazard identification and measures to mitigate these hazards
Safety Data Sheet should:
- Be provided for all chemicals used at the workplace especially those which are classified as hazardous.
- Contain 16 headings/sections.
- Be prepared by a competent person (MSDS/SDS-Author).
- Be clear and understandable.
- Be provided free of charge.
- Be provided no later than at the time of first delivery of chemical product
- Be provided upon update or revision to every user
- Be dated and the pages numbered
Chemical safety is important to prevent hazards at source by elimination and substitution of hazardous chemicals to the best extent possible. If this is not possible, protective measures such as PPE, storage measures and engineering controls should be put in place to minimize worker’s exposure to these hazards.
Developing chemical safety program is must to prevent risks from hazardous chemicals. Some of the important activities of chemical safety program may inlcude:
- Mapping chemicals for hazards
- Planning actions on hazards
- Communication of hazards (Labelling, training on SDS)
- Implementing standard operating procedures (SOP)
Mapping of chemical hazards is beneficial because a dynamic database of all chemicals used in the factory is developed, and this database is very useful to identify the hazardous chemicals used in high volumes. Mapping of chemicals helps to identify the missing documents such as MSDS/SDS, supplier declaration. Dupplication of chemicals can be avoided by identifying the unnecessary chemicals used in the processes. As a result of mapping of chemicals, a clear action plan to phase out hazardous chemicals can be devised. Communication of hazards of chemicals to workers is the most prioritised activity in chemical safety program. Workers must know the hazards of the chemicals they are handling.
Chemical safety program is a basic need in textile mills and a contributing factor for effective textile production as with the help of proper systems and programs in place there are less chances of accidents and can improve upon productivity. The textile industry can encourage the implementation of chemical safety programs through spreading awareness and training.
The present information is purely for your guidance and based on our present knowledge and data collected from various authentic sources. Although every effort has been made to check the correctness of the information, NIMKARTEK cannot accept responsibility for any errors which may exist in the document.