The transformation of plastic films consists to give technical characteristics to the plastic films. For example, to make a polyester film printable or heat sealable, we coat film with a polish. The formulation is a process that create polishes which will give to the plastic films the requested properties according to their applications.
The achievement of the formulation is achieved by the handling of several chemical substances and preparations. For reduce the risks of the chemicals used, it is important to consider important parameters.
In order to select the products, it is possible to lean on different tools. First, the Reach legislation determine a package of substances prohibited in Europe. It also draws a list of substances ongoing reports which are likely become prohibited thereafter.
There is a classification of CMR products (carcinogenic, mutagenic and reprotoxic) according to their dangerousness. It is establishing by ECHA (European Chemical Agency) which organizes them according to their impact in 1A, 1B and 2, 1A the most harmful and 2 the one on which there are doubts. Although there is little prohibition on the use of products 1A and 1B, the large majority of plastics processors don’t use these products.
Adapt the process to the use conditions of the raw materials
It’s essential to request the SDS (Safety Data Sheets) of the used substances, to check that they aren’t a part of the limitations imposed by Reach or advise against by ECHA or the labor law. This information allows to know the specific conditions of use. For example, some potentially explosive powders require use precautions. Another example, is when the handling of some products requires the use of specific PPE (Personal Protective Equipment).
These information’s will enable us to take all necessary action for safe handling and inform operators of the obligation to wear PPE.
Establish a smooth communication between services
It’s necessary to have a good communication between services. R&D, purchasing, logistics, quality/safety/environment, maintenance and production are stakeholders in the formulation activity. A material purchased in large quantities are cheaper, but it’s storage conditions and handling aren’t necessarily adapted to the company.
This communication is essential for the good comprehension of all and make it possible to choose and make the best decisions;
Have equipment’s that reply safety standards
In the context of the organic solvents use, the risk of fire or explosion can’t be excluded. In order to hedge against the electrostatic phenomenon at the origin of theses accident, general provisions must be strictly observed by the operators and the process:
- Grouding of fixed and mobile equipment to dissipate static loads
Blanketing to reduce oxygen present in a reservoir by a neutral gas which replaces the ambient air. The lack of oxygen removes the oxidant needed for the fire.
- System for detecting gas or vapor concentration with alarm thresholdes when the risk of explosive atmosphere is present.
The 4 steps to be implemented are:
- Select the choice of substances authorized or recommended by the competent organization.
- Adapt the process to their uses conditions.
- Insert good communication between the services for a mutual understanding of the security issues.
- Set up the technical provisions allowing a safe use of the different substances: earthing, inerting and detection.
It’s the responsibility of everyone to understand the inherent risk in the handling of certain material. Procedures exist, but it’s their application, and not the standards themselves, who will ensure the safety of operators and users!