Take a look around you and it is difficult to find a single object that is untouched from paints and coatings. From a simple pen to the mammoth machineries that you will get to see in factories, all of them have some or the other type of paint coated on them. Unknowingly, paint and the hazardous substances that it is composed of, have become an inevitable part of human life. All these painted items in our close vicinity seem to be harmless to us but the case is absolutely the opposite for all those who work in the factories producing paint. The one substance that makes the object around us pretty is indeed posing great threat to the lives of the makers of this product.
The hazardous nature of paint
On studying the composition of paint closely, you will find a lot of chemical substances that pose a great threat to the lives of those who come in direct contact of the manufacturing process. This is also the reason why a lot of companies who are careful about their employees advocate the use of safety measures to ensure the health of its employees.
Talking about the harmful components of paint, volatile organic compounds or VOCs top the list. These chemicals are generally present in the solvents used to dilute the paints. VOCs are majorly related to the organic solvent syndrome but the proofs are not yet very evident. These compounds cause serious health problems like asthma, and other respiratory problems. VOCs can be inhaled easily during the manufacturing process and get in contact with the respiratory tract, thereafter damaging the entire body slowly.
Another component in paints that is equally hazardous to VOCs is the presence of heavy metals like lead, cadmium, oxides like mercuric oxides and chromium pigments. The health risks that these components pose are at times easily detected but they also remain dormant for a long time, making the problem even more chronic. Lead and mercury specifically pose serious threat to the mental health of children and also to limbs, human foetus and kidneys. They also lead to skin and intestinal ulcers, and different kinds of cancers.
The best way to keep this problem in check is regular testing and analysis of the paint that is manufactured in the factory. Various firms like the Paint Inspection Ltd provide services like paint sampling which will give you a detailed analysis of the component levels in the paint and how hazardous they can prove to be.
Recommendations for safety of the employees
Many researches have been made that have confirmed the presence of various hazardous chemicals in painting substances. Studies have recommended various preventive measures that can help in reducing the harmful effect of these chemicals on the employees.
Listed below are a few of such recommendations for the benefit of people working in the paint manufacturing industry-
- Making the workers understand the importance of periodic medical examination to ensure their health and to be aware of any health issues. Companies should sponsor such medical endeavours so that the workers are not worried about the financial aspect.
- Efficient training should be given to workers dealing with solvents to make them aware of their safety measures.
- In case of any emergency, workers should be able to know how to use first aid and that there should be emergency eyewash stations and full body showers installed in a good number in the workplace, especially where the solvents are used. First aid training should be provided positively.
- Emphasis should be laid on good hygiene practices. Proper monitoring should be done so that no harmful substances are leaked or pollute the place.
- The companies must consider the used of water based paints instead of solvent based paints to ensure safety of the workers.