All you need to know about hot melt safety!
The following are excerpts from the blog by Aaron Plumley, Applications Engineer, Technical Service, H.B. Fuller.
Workplace fatalities totalled 5,333 in 2019—a two-per cent increase over 2018. The number of preventable, non-fatal workplace injuries is exceedingly higher. To prevent injuries in the workplace, implementing safety protocols and following best practices for workplace safety is imperative to the success of businesses, the safety of workers, and the continued push for safer working conditions. Hot melt adhesives are no exception to other hazards in the workplace and require special care to handle safely.
The chemical components of hot melts include polymers, plasticizers, tackifiers, and antioxidants, each tailoring properties of the product to ensure high bond strength under varying temperature and operational conditions.
With new developments in hot melt adhesives, the products should boost the efficiency of manufacturing and the value of the products created using hot melt adhesives. This opens the doors for these products to meet new regulations for safety and sustainability in these applications.
Advances in the chemical composition enable the hot melt products to resist bond failure at a spectrum of temperatures, be compatible with a variety of substrates, reduce waste, decrease downtime in production, and gain more mileage out of the amount of product used. An increasing focus on sustainability has also improved the environmental friendliness of hot melts both in the hot melt products themselves and the processes necessary to use them effectively and safely.
Hot melt adhesives, most commonly used in package sealing and bookbinding, require special care to avoid serious burns that result in slower line productions and downtime for workers who experience injury.
Although hot melt adhesive is harmless as a raw, unheated thermoplastic, to be functional, a great degree of heat must be added to transform the material into a molten form, which is typically applied at 350oF. Accordingly, workers need to take the utmost care and follow strict guidelines to handle hot melt products safely.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) at a minimum includes goggles with side guards and gloves with strong resistance to high temperatures.
One big step towards promoting ideal hot melt safety conditions is regular maintenance of the equipment workers use to apply hot melt products.
Tanks for hot melt materials should be filled to three-quarters of the capacity to ensure the hot melt machines perform best and achieve the appropriate temperature for application. To fill the tanks with minimal risk, scoops should be used to avoid contamination, reduce splashing, and prevent spills.
Any molten hot melt that comes into contact with the surface of the skin should be treated quickly. Do not attempt to wipe the hot melt off the affected area. Instead, run cool water over the exposed surface of the skin and wrap it with a cool bandage and seek medical attention immediately.
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