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Plastics & Rubber

What is the Plastics Industry?

The plastics industry manufactures polymer materials and offers services in plastics important to a range of industries, including aerospace, building and construction, electronics, packaging, and transportation.


What is Plastic Extrusion?

Plastics extrusion is a high-volume manufacturing process in which raw plastic is melted and formed into a continuous profile. Extrusion produces items such as pipe/tubing, weatherstripping, fencing, deck railings, window frames, plastic films and sheeting, thermoplastic coatings, and wire insulation.

When plastic pellets, granules and powders are heated through processing, plastic fume can be produced which include respiratory sensitises, irritants and carcinogens being released into the working environment. Immediate effects of these may include severe irritation to the nose, lungs and eyes. In some cases, especially during prolonged exposures, the effects can be long term and irreversible.

Toxic gases emitted by burning plastic materials like dioxins and furans may also cause cancer, impotence, asthma and a myriad of other detrimental effects to human beings.

By using Portable Gas Monitors individuals will be able to monitor exposure personally and record the data, this can benefit businesses when completing risk assessments. In addition we would recommend a Fixed Gas Detection system to detect any leaks that may occur without individuals being present.

What is Plastic Injection Moulding?

Plastic moulding is the process of pouring liquid plastic into a certain container or mould so that it hardens in that customized shape. These plastic moulds can then be used for a wide range of purposes.

Plastics used in injection moulding processes come usually in the form of pellets, granules or powders. These materials can also include additives such as fillers, pigments, fire retardants and stabilisers.

Plastics fume, produced when the material is heated in processing, can include respiratory sensitisers, irritants and carcinogens. The exact composition of any fume varies. Immediate effects may include severe irritation to the eyes, nose and lungs. In some cases, the effects can be long-term and irreversible.

There are many of the chemical compounds released during injection moulding but the most common are styrene, phenol, hydrogen chloride, butadiene, formaldehyde, acrolein and other aldehyde. The exact composition of the fumes will naturally depend on the initial ingredients and also on the process temperatures which causes thermal degradation of the initial material.

What is the difference between Plastic Extrusion and Plastic Injection Molding?

The Extrusion process is required to create continuous linear, two-dimensional shapes.

Injection Molding produces three-dimensional shapes that do not remain constant in a parallel line.

What is the Rubber Industry?

Rubber industry is an important resource based industry sector in the world. It has witnessed a steady and strong growth over the years.

Because of the wide application of rubber in both tires and non-tire applications, the present scenario as well as the future of the rubber industry is tied to the global economy. There are two types of rubber used in the rubber industry, Natural and Synthetic.

What are the risks associated with the Rubber Industry?

Rubber processing hazards include exposure to hot surfaces, pressurized steam, solvents, processing aids, curing fumes and noise. Dusting agents include stearates, talc, mica and cornstarch. The organic dusts are explosive.

Finishing adds a variety of hazards due to the creating of spark, examples of finishing could be punching, cutting, grinding, printing ink solvents and alkaline or acidic surface treatment washes.

Microwave, electron beam and ultrasonic vulcanization are being developed to generate heat within the rubber instead of transferring it inefficiently from outside to inside.

The industry is working hard to eliminate or find safer substitutes for lead, dusting agents and volatile organic solvents and to improve compounds for better and safer properties in processing and use.

The development of microwave, electron beam and ultrasonic vulcanization is still being developed at this time with most business using Dusting Agents within their Rubber Manufacturing Process.

Due to this we would recommend a Carbon Filtered Mask, a Portable Gas Monitor and Fixed Gas Detection system in order to combat the risk of unwanted exposure to individuals.

The Carbon Filtered Mask is essential PPE for an individual working in the Rubber Industry, this assists with filtering toxins within the atmosphere.

A Portable Gas Monitor is essential PPE for an individual working in the Rubber Industry, this will assist with data logging, record management and risk assessments. This advises on individual exposure when considering Exposure Control Plans (ECP).

A Fixed Gas Detection system is essential for an individual working in the Rubber Industry, this will assist with data logging, record management and risk assessments. This advises on premises exposure when considering Exposure Control Plans (ECP).

Fixed Gas Detection

A Fixed Gas Detection system is a detection system that, when calibrated to its desired specification, continuously samples the atmosphere and when toxins are detected (as per the calibration), the system will trigger signals that alert individuals that toxins are present.

Fixed Gas Detection uses different technologies in order to detect the desired toxin(s).

A failure to carefully consider each variable when assessing risk on site may lead to Safety Monitoring Instrumentation being used incorrectly and ineffectively.

An unmaintained instrument or system is worse than no instrument or system- and that's the truth!!

Lack of due diligence or misinformation could lead to detectors being incorrectly installed or positioned on site, this could lead to unrecognised high-risk areas, where detectors could be used. In addition the wrong type of detection in high risk areas could result in incorrect data logging or a complete failure to indicate toxic exposure to individuals.

Poor maintenance is another factor when considering detection accuracy and performance of Fixed Gas Detection systems and Portable Gas Monitors.

Case Study

The Visakhapatnam gas leak, also referred to as the Vizag gas leak, was an industrial accident that occurred at Plastics Polymers chemical plant in India during the early morning of 7 May 2020.

The resulting vapour cloud spread over a radius of around 3km, affecting the nearby areas and villages.The death toll was 11, and more than 1,000 people became sick after being exposed to the gas.

Preliminary investigations concluded that the accident was likely the result of insufficient maintenance of units storing the styrene monomer, this included improper storage and operation errors. All variables mentioned above contributed to this tragedy and could have been avoided if diligent care was taken, maintenance was considered and executed in a timely manner and training was invested into individuals.

"I think I may need Safety Instrumentation Monitoring, but I don’t know anything about it!"

You don’t need to understand Safety Instrumentation Monitoring to be safe at work! If you are unsure whether you need a monitor, please call one of the team on the below number.

Call The Team: 01489 326031

You cannot create the need for Safety Instrumentation, the need is either there or isn’t – that why the best way to make sure you are keeping yourself and your own team as safe as possible is to give one of our experienced team members a call! You can speak to us about your site and our team will be able to advise you based off extensive working knowledge, existing and pre-existing clients/projects and industry specific hazards. Our team remain informed in the world of Safety Instrumentation so that we can provide up to date advice in line with best practices. This means whenever you speak to our team you know you are receiving updated support from people who care.

"Our work should enrich our lives, not cost them" - Alex Graft (Managing Director)
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