Even though South Africa is continuously making progress towards creating safer work environments, accidents still happen. Even when employers go above and beyond to protect the health and safety of employees, certain chemicals that are part of the make-up of modern products, such as adhesives, can still make the flooring industry a risky sector for installers and contractors.

It is important always to remember that flammable solvents can be dangerous and can reach explosive strengths when used or stored in confined areas. Also, sniffing or inhaling the substance by installers can result in addictive behaviour, a practice commonly referred to as ‘glue sniffing’.

“Non-flammable solvents are safer because they cannot explode or ignite, but they also come with safety concerns. In Europe, for example, non-flammable solvents have been banned from general use and when they are used, a fully self-contained breathing apparatus must be worn. This is the equivalent of installing wall cladding while wearing scuba gear,” says Alistair MacDougal from iTe Products. “When using the solvent without protective gear, it prevents the blood from absorbing oxygen from the lungs. As the muscles become depleted, more oxygen is needed and instead, larger quantities of the solvent are drawn into the lungs, thereby preventing oxygen from being absorbed until the heart is under severe stress. This is obviously not a healthy or viable situation.”

“The alternative is to follow international best practice and specify safe, green products such as water based contact adhesives. While these solvents are more expensive than solvent based adhesives, they do not pose a threat to humans or the environment,” concludes Alistair.

For more information please visit www.iteproducts.co.za.