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26. Prevention of
Organic Solvent Poisoning

Organic solvents are used in manufacturing processes of various products in factories and many other industrial sites. In these processes, a significant number of health problems including acute poisoning have occurred. To prevent such problems, employers are obligated to do the following:

1. Regulated substances

(Organic solvents or organic solvent mixtures containing organic solvents at more than 5 wt.% : hereafter referred to as Organic solvent substances, etc."): 54 substances

a. Class-1 organic solvents: 7 substances, i.e., chloroform, carbon tetrachloride, 1,2-dichloroethane, 1,2-dichloroethylene, 1,1,2,2-tetrachloroethane, trichloroethylene and carbon disulfide

b. Class-2 organic solvents: 40 substances including acetone, ethylether, xylene, butyl acetate, styrene, trichloroethylene and n-hexane

c. Class-3 organic solvents: 7 substances, i.e., gasoline, coal-tar naphtha, petroleum ether, petroleum naphtha, petroleum benzine, turpentine oil and mineral spirit

2.Organic solvents work

a. Manufacturing processes of organic solvents, etc.; work to filter, mix, stir or heat organic solvents, etc. in the manufacturing processes of dyes, pharmaceuticals, agricultural chemicals, synthetic resin or their intermediates

b. Printing operations carried out by using a material containing an organic solvent

c. Work involving drawing letters or pictures using a material containing an organic solvent

d. Varnishing, waterproofing and other surface treating work carried out by using organic solvents, etc.

e. Work involving applying organic solvents, etc. for bonding, and work involving bonding objects to which organic solvents, etc. have been applied

f. Cleaning or wiping operation carried out by using organic solvents, etc.

g. . Painting operation carried out by using organic solvents, etc.

h. Work involving drying objects to which organic solvents, etc. are adhered

j. Testing or research work carried out by using organic solvents, etc.

j. Work carried out in tanks that have contained organic solvents, etc.

3. Fundamental preventive measures

a. Equipment

Class-1 and class-2 organic solvents, etc.: Equipment to seal up the emitting source of organic solvent vapour, local exhaust ventilation system or push-pull type ventilator

Class-3 organic solvents, etc.: Equipment to seal up the emitting source of organic solvent vapour, local exhaust ventilation system, push-pull type ventilator or general ventilator. Nevertheless, for work carried out in a tank, a general ventilator must not be used.
For an indoor workplace of which the walls have two or more open sides or when workers put on air-supplied respirator for short-time work, the installation of equipment may be omitted.

b. Health examination

Work to handle class-1 and class-2 organic solvents, etc. in indoor workplaces and work to handle class-3 organic solvents, etc. in tanks (Health examination required at least once every 6 months).

c. Performance standards of local exhaust ventilation system, etc.

For local exhaust ventilation system, etc., the type of hood, air cleaner, the position of exhaust opening, the controlled air velocity, the ventilation volume and the like are stipulated.

4. Management

a. Appointment of operations chief

For work involving manufacturing or handling a substance listed in (1), an operations chief who has completed a definite skilll training course must be appointed.

b. Periodical voluntary inspection

Periodical voluntary inspection of local exhaust ventilation sysytem, etc. should be carried out at least once a year, and the results and records of repair must be kept for three years.

c. Notice

A notice indicating the following matters should be posted in a prominent place for workers handling organic solvents:

(a) Effect of organic solvents on the human body

(b) Precautions in handling organic solvents, etc..

(c) First aid treatment in the case of organic solvent poisoning

d. Indications of organic solvent classes

Class-1 organic solvents, etc.: Red
Class-2 organic solvents, etc.: Yellow
Class-3 organic solvents, etc.: Blue

e. Working environment measurement

In indoor workplaces where class-1 and class-2 organic solvents are handled, the working environment should be measured at least every 6 months and equipment or working processes should be improved.

5. Exemption from application of the provisions

In case only a small amount of an organic solvent is consumed, such obligations as the installation of equipment, assignment of an operations chief, posting of a notice, indications and so forth are exempted.

The next article in the series will be on the prevention of health damage likely to be caused by specified chemical substances, etc.