The Risk Management Tool Box Blog

Safety Alert for Volatile Solvents

Graham Marshall - Sunday, November 25, 2012

This safety alert is about the adverse health effects of volatile solvents and thinners.

All volatile solvents have the potential to cause a person to lose consciousness, and suffer a cardiac arrhythmia and possibly death when used in an enclosed or poorly ventilated area.

Toluene xylene, hexane, methyl ethyl ketone, naphthalene, and other petroleum-based solvents have been implicated in many fatal accidents. Other chemicals present in proprietary thinners can greatly increase skin absorption causing or exacerbating toxic effects.

In a recent case in Australia, a young worker died while using a volatile solvent to clean the inside of a boat’s hull.

The solvent vapours were inhaled and the solvent absorbed through the skin causing the young worker to lose consciousness and die due to cardiac arrhythmias.

The solvent being used was similar to paint thinners.

It had a combination of volatile ingredients that made it easy to inhale vapours and the solvent was readily absorbed through the skin. The boat hull had no ventilation to remove the solvent vapours.

No appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) was worn, such as a respiratory mask or gloves.

The Risk Management Tool Box reminds any person controlling a business or undertaking that they must:

 Manage the risk to health and safety associated when using, handling, generating or storing a hazardous chemical at a workplace, as outlined in clause 351 of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 (WHS Regulation).

 Ensure that information, training and instruction on the risks associated with the use of volatile solvents and thinners is provided to workers, as outlined in clause 39 of the WHS Regulation;

 Ensure that a current Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) is readily accessible to any worker who uses a hazardous chemical, as outlined in clause 344 of the WHS Regulation;

 Ensure that no-one at the workplace is exposed to airborne concentrations of hazardous chemicals that exceed the exposure standard, as outlined in clause 49 of the WHS Regulation;

 Provide appropriate PPE, as per the requirements of clauses 44-47 of the WHS Regulation;

 Ensure there are no ignition sources present, such as lighting or electrical equipment that is not designed for safe use in hazardous atmospheres, as outlined in clauses 51, 52 and 355 of the WHS Regulation;

 Follow the requirements outlined in clauses 62-77 of the WHS Regulation if the work is undertaken in a confined space.

Other risk management controls which contribute to good practice include the following suggestions:

 Substitute the solvent-based cleaner with a water-based cleaner;

 Ensure there is enough ventilation to keep the solvent vapours below the Australian Exposure Standard (ES);

 Read the MSDS to determine what PPE is necessary to prevent absorption, and what engineering controls are appropriate;

 Train workers on how to use PPE;

 For areas that are enclosed or partially enclosed, stand outside the area and use a long-handled mop to clean the confined area;

 Ensure there are no ignition sources when using solvents in an enclosed or partially enclosed area, as there is potential for creating a hazardous atmosphere;

Additional Information

 AS 2865: 2009 Working in confined spaces;

 AS/NZ 60079.10.1: 2009: Explosive atmospheres – classification of areas – explosive gas atmospheres; and

 AS/NZ 1715: 2009 Selection, use and maintenance of respiratory protective equipment.

ADG7 takes Effect in Victoria

Graham Marshall - Sunday, October 28, 2012

The State of Victoria's law is now consistent with an updated national framework for transporting dangerous goods by road or rail.

The framework, which is the responsibility of the National Transport Commission (NTC), closely aligns with international standards for the safe transport and storage of dangerous goods.

Victoria’s Dangerous Goods Act (1985) has been amended to adopt the national framework and introduce new regulations for the safe transport of dangerous goods.

For consistency, minor amendments have also been made to other Victorian regulations.

Importantly, the law now references the 7th edition of the Australian Dangerous Goods Code (ADG7).

ADG7 includes updated technical requirements for classifying, packing, labeling, consigning and transporting dangerous goods.

If you are already compliant with dangerous goods laws you’re well positioned to meet the new requirements.

For many workplaces and duty holders, responsibilities will not significantly change with the transition to ADG7.

All businesses must comply with ADG7.

The new requirements include:

 Some changes to labeling and marking requirements for a number of dangerous goods;

 New documentation requirements for transporting dangerous goods;

 Some new and clarified supply chain responsibilities for consignors, packers, people loading vehicles, drivers, prime contractors and rail operators;

 New word definitions and terms that align with international and intermodal practice;

 Concessions for transporting small quantities of dangerous goods, such as very small consignments and goods for personal or trade use;

 Issuing of dangerous goods licences raised from three to five years;

 Changes to eligibility for Victorian dangerous goods drivers and vehicle licences; and

 A minimum requirement for $5 million of insurance for placard loads.


John Holland Fined for Wayne Moore Fatality

Graham Marshall - Friday, April 27, 2012

The maximum civil penalty of AUD $242,000 has been handed-down this week by the Federal Court to Leighton Holdings following the death of  worker Wayne Moore, 45.

Wayne, who was an employee of John Holland, fell 10 meters after he stepped onto an unsecured sheet of grid mesh at BHP Billiton’s Mount Whaleback mine at Newman on March 19th, 2009.

Workplace inspectors found there had been two other incidents involving unsecured flooring mesh at the Mount Whaleback mine in the weeks leading up to Mr Moore’s death.

The Federal Court ruled that John Holland had breached federal work health and safety laws by failing to take all reasonably practicable steps to protect the health and safety of its workers.

The AUD $242,000 fine imposed on John Holland is the maximum civil penalty upon a company for a breach of the general duty of care requirements under the Commonwealth OHS Act.

In addition to the fine, the Court imposed an enforceable undertaking from John Holland and John Holland Group, requiring them to implement better safety practices in their operations across Australia.

They are also required to share these improvements with the construction industry, including through the Federal Safety Commissioner.

The court decision sends a message to unsafe employers about the serious consequences of failing to meet their OSH legal obligations.

That message is even more important for employers to understand, since new work health and safety laws came into force January 1 this year and the penalties available to Courts are now much higher for similar cases.


Safety Terms in MSDS

Graham Marshall - Friday, June 10, 2011

Under European Union Legislation, MSDSs available in the UK contain codes for certain "safety phrases", shown as S1 to S62.

These common safety phrases are also used elsewhere in the world.

It may be useful to understand what the codes mean so I'm posting the EC code meanings below:

S1             Keep locked up.

S2            Keep out of the reach of children.

S3            Keep in a cool place.

S4            Keep away from living quarters.

S5            Keep contents under … (there follows the name of a liquid).

S6           Keep under … (there follows the name of an inert gas).

S7           Keep container tightly closed.

S8           Keep container dry.

S9           Keep container in a well-ventilated place.

S12         Do not keep the container sealed.

S13         Keep away from food, drink and animal foodstuffs.

S14         Keep away from … (a list of incompatible materials will follow).

S15         Keep away from heat. S16         Keep away from sources of ignition.

S17         Keep away from combustible material.

S18         Handle and open container with care.

S20         When using, do not eat or drink.

S21         When using do not smoke.

S22         Do not breathe dust.

S23         Do not breathe vapour.

S24         Avoid contact with skin.

S25         Avoid contact with eyes.

S26         In case of contact with eyes, rinse immediately with plenty of water and seek medical advice.

S27         Take off immediately all contaminated clothing.

S28         After contact with skin, wash immediately with plenty of soap-suds.

S29         Do not empty into drains.

S30         Never add water to this product.

S33         Take precautionary measures against static discharges.

S35         This material and its container must be disposed of in a safe way.

S36         Wear suitable protective clothing.

S37         Wear suitable gloves.

S38         In case of insufficient ventilation, wear suitable respiratory equipment.

S39         Wear eye / face protection.

S40         To clean the floor and all objects contaminated by this material, use (suitable cleaning material).

S41         In case of fire and / or explosion do not breathe fumes.

S42         During fumigation / spraying wear suitable respiratory equipment.

S43         In case of fire use … (there follows the type of fire-fighting equipment to be used.)

S45         In case of accident or if you feel unwell, seek medical advice immediately.

S46         If swallowed, seek medical advice immediately and show this container or label.

S47         Keep at temperature not exceeding…

S48         To be kept wet with (there follows a material name).

S49         Keep only in the original container.

S50         Do not mix with …

S51         Use only in well ventilated areas.

S52         Not recommended for interior use on large surface areas.

S53         Avoid exposure – obtain special instructions before use.

S56         Dispose of this material and its container at hazardous or special waste collection point.

S57         Use appropriate container to avoid environmental contamination.

S59         Refer to manufacturer / supplier for information on recovery / recycling.

S60         This material and its container must be disposed of as hazardous waste.

S61         Avoid release to the environment. Refer to special instructions / safety data sheets.

S62         If swallowed, do not induce vomiting; seek medical advice immediately and show this container or label.



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