Facility Safety

Onsite Solvent Recovery and Facility Safety

From understanding the properties of industrial solvents to implementing cutting-edge technologies like onsite recovery units, discover how to prioritize worker well-being and facility safety, meet regulatory standards, and contribute to a sustainable and secure industrial landscape. Uncover the latest innovations, safety practices, and emerging technologies that redefine the way facilities handle solvents, emphasizing a holistic and forward-thinking approach.

Table of Contents

Industrial solvents play a crucial role in various manufacturing and industrial processes, serving as versatile chemicals for cleaning, degreasing, and dissolving materials. However, the handling of these solvents poses inherent risks, making facility safety paramount. Technology is rapidly changing and onsite solvent recovery has only just begun to benefit from it. Onsite solvent recovery units, like the AlwaysClean recyclers from CleanPlanet, can now recover solvent at higher efficiencies than their offsite counterparts. Additionally, they help to reduce your solvent waste and in turn, decrease the risk that workers have to assume when dealing with hazardous byproducts. Taking advantage of emerging technologies is only a piece of the puzzle when it comes to talking about facility safety. Educating workers on proper handling of solvents, providing safety training, and ensuring that proper PPE is worn will all help to keep your facility safe. 

Understanding Industrial Solvents

Before delving into safety measures, it’s essential to understand the diverse landscape of industrial solvents. Solvents come in various forms, from common chemicals like acetone and ethanol to specialized ones like xylene and toluene, serving specific purposes in different industries. A basic knowledge of the terms and properties of solvents can help to keep you and others safe.

Material Properties

Autoignition Temperature:

The lowest temperature at which a flammable material will ignite spontaneously. 

Explosive Limits:

The range of concentrations in the air within which a flammable vapor will ignite.

Flashpoint:

The lowest temperature at which a flammable liquid gives off enough vapor to form an ignitable mixture with air. 

Odor Threshold

The lowest concentration of a substance in the air that can be detected by smell. 

Toxicity:

Measure of how poisonous a chemical is.  Stress the importance of minimizing exposure with proper PPE and adherence to Occupational Exposure Limits (OELs).

Vapor Density:

The weight of a vapor or gas compared to the weight of an equal volume of air. 

Vapor Pressure:

 A measure of a liquid’s ability to evaporate. 

In the world of industrial solvents, a nuanced understanding of each chemical’s properties and potential risks is critical. Familiarize yourself with the MSDS and chemical properties for each solvent, enhancing safety measures and empowering your workforce to handle these substances with confidence.

Best Practices for Facility Safety

Educating your personnel with the proper use of industrial solvents requires going beyond understanding their properties and delving into comprehensive safety measures. Ensuring the well-being of your workforce involves a multifaceted approach, including engineering controls, administrative practices, and the use of personal protective equipment.

Substitution: Choosing Safer Solvents

Minimizing exposure to hazardous solvents involves substituting them with less toxic alternatives. Conduct a thorough hazard assessment to identify alternatives or cleaning methods with lower health and environmental risks. Ensure substitutes meet technical requirements without compromising operational efficiency, evaluating their efficacy. Check compatibility with existing processes, equipment, and materials, ensuring seamless integration. Assess whether current control measures are sufficient for the new solvent, considering adjustments to engineering controls or administrative practices. Establish an appropriate waste disposal system for the new chemical, ensuring compliance with regulations and environmental standards.

Engineering Controls: Process and Equipment Modifications

Efforts to minimize exposure to solvents can be achieved through strategic modifications in processes and equipment. Installing local ventilation hoods, effective systems capturing and eliminating solvent vapors at the source, is crucial. Enclosures like fume hoods or glove boxes isolate work processes involving solvents, further mitigating potential exposure. Using closed systems for transferring solvents minimizes fugitive emissions. Innovations like CleanPlanet’s AlwaysClean solvent recovery units, employing closed-loop systems, significantly reduce worker exposure to solvents. The VMX Vapor Management System routes hot solvent vapors from ejected waste directly back into the AlwaysClean, where they are condensed and reprocessed. Properly designed ventilation systems prevent vapor recirculation into the work area, enhancing facility safety.

Administrative Controls: Safe Work Practices

Establishing practices and procedures to reduce exposure to solvents is foundational to fostering a culture of safety. Comprehensive training programs educate workers about specific hazards associated with solvents, promoting safe work practices and ensuring familiarity with emergency procedures. Emphasize good hygiene practices, such as refraining from eating, drinking, or storing food in solvent areas. Spill response training equips employees with knowledge for proper cleanup procedures, utilizing spill kits and personal protective equipment. Implement proper storage protocols, ensuring compatibility and separation from incompatible chemicals. Regular maintenance routines, involving inspection and upkeep of engineering controls and equipment, ensure ongoing effectiveness in minimizing risks associated with solvent handling. As a feature of CleanPlanet’s Service365 program – a fully loaded, no CAPEX  service model; all equipment is monitored, maintained,  and upgraded at no additional cost.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Last Line of Defense

Ensuring worker safety during solvent handling involves providing essential protective gear to minimize the risks of direct contact and inhalation. Select appropriate respiratory protection based on the nature of the work and airborne solvent concentrations. Provide thorough training on the proper use and maintenance of respirators. Mandate the use of solvent-resistant gloves to prevent skin absorption. Ensure workers wear protective clothing covering arms and legs. Emphasize eye protection through airtight goggles or full-face respirators, safeguarding against irritation or splashes. Comprehensive training programs educate workers on the proper use and maintenance of personal protective equipment, with a focus on potential hazards associated with solvent exposure.

 
Solvent Safety

Regulatory Compliance and Occupational Exposure Limits

Compliance with regulatory standards is fundamental to ensuring facility safety and minimizing environmental impact. Solvents have established Occupational Exposure Limits (OELs) to safeguard workers from potential health risks. Key steps for regulatory compliance include:

Occupational Exposure Limits (OELs):

Define the permissible concentration of a specific substance in the air within the workplace. Familiarize yourself with OELs for solvents, monitor workplace air quality, and implement effective control measures to minimize exposure.

Hazard Assessment:

Conducting a hazard assessment involves identifying, evaluating, and controlling potential hazards associated with solvent use, storage, and disposal. Maintain detailed records of hazard assessments, document identified risks, and regularly review them to prevent potential risks.

Training Requirements:

Implement specific training programs to educate workers about solvent hazards and safe handling practices. Develop comprehensive training programs covering solvent hazards, emergency procedures, and proper use of protective equipment. Periodic training sessions and updates ensure workers stay informed about safety protocols and regulatory changes.

Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS):

MSDS play a crucial role in ensuring the safe handling of solvents. Maintain up-to-date MSDS for all chemicals used, make them readily accessible to employees, and train employees on interpreting and using information from MSDS.

Emergency Procedures:

Emergency procedures are critical for solvent handling. Develop comprehensive Emergency Response Plans outlining steps in solvent-related emergencies. Train employees on emergency procedures and conduct periodic drills to ensure effective responses.

Storage and Handling of Flammable Materials:

Adhere to specific regulations and guidelines for the storage and handling of flammable materials, including solvents. Separate solvents from incompatible chemicals, ensure proper ventilation, and comply with local fire codes for a secure storage environment.

Continuous Monitoring and Improvement:

Foster a culture of continuous improvement in facility safety around industrial solvents by establishing regular monitoring and feedback mechanisms. Conduct routine safety audits, enabling the assessment of existing controls and adherence to safety protocols. Encourage workers to report concerns and provide feedback on safety measures, creating an open and collaborative environment. Incident analysis plays a crucial role in enhancing safety protocols, with thorough investigations and analysis of any incidents or near misses. Keep workers informed about new developments in safety measures and provide regular training updates to ensure the workforce remains abreast of the latest advancements, contributing to an ongoing commitment to safety enhancement.

Emerging Technologies for Enhanced Safety

Real-time Monitoring:

Real-time monitoring and reporting features, like MyCleanPlanet offered on the AlwaysClean line of solvent recovery machines, provide an innovative approach to solvent recovery, allowing you to see how much solvent you are recycling and how much money you are saving with each cycle. This technology reduces waste by monitoring efficiency, contributing to a more sustainable and eco-friendly operation. Data is fed through 50+ sensors on the units which monitor the machine to ensure it’s maximizing yield and running at peak performance. As well, it facilitates significant solvent savings as you no longer need to solely rely on virgin solvent for your operations. 

Through CleanPlanet’s Service365 program,  you are provided with the latest and greatest solvent recovery machines tailored to your process needs. Under this service, the solvent recovery machines are available with no capital expense, all you pay for is the clean, recycled solvent. CleanPlanet regularly maintains your equipment for you, monitoring for issues, and looking for ways to improve efficiency. As technology continues to develop, upgrades are provided at no additional cost.  This means that onsite solvent recovery can not only help to optimize resource usage, but reduce waste, and provide savings which means a win-win-win for EHS, the environment, and your bottom line. 

Closed-loop Solvent Recovery Systems:

Closed-loop solvent recovery systems offer a forward-thinking solution for minimizing volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions. CleanPlanet’s VMX system, a closed-loop technology, manages vapors effectively, eliminating unpleasant odors and fostering a healthier workspace. Opting for closed-loop solvent recovery aligns with environmental responsibility and prioritizes the well-being of your workforce. 

Automated Solvent Recovery:

Investing in automated systems streamlines industrial processes while minimizing manual intervention. CleanPlanet’s solvent recovery units constantly monitor and adjust your solvent recovery process. Automation allows increased efficiency and precision in solvent distillation. Systems equipped with diagnostic capabilities enable proactive maintenance, reducing downtime and enhancing overall productivity. Automation simplifies operational processes and contributes to a reliable and sustainable workflow in handling industrial solvents. In addition, automation keeps your workers safe as they limit their interaction with the solvents from start to finish.  CleanPlanet’s solvent distillation system needs less than ten minutes a day of your team’s attention. Making it easy to fit seamlessly into your current facility operations and maintaining the movement of solvent through your process.

A Holistic Approach to Safety

Ensuring the safety of facilities engaged in industrial solvent handling demands a comprehensive and forward-thinking approach. By amalgamating industry best practices, incorporating cutting-edge technologies, and upholding stringent regulatory compliance, facilities can cultivate an environment that prioritizes the well-being of its workforce. This commitment extends beyond compliance and delves into the realm of ongoing education, emphasizing the importance of continuous learning for all personnel involved. Regular equipment maintenance further fortifies the safety infrastructure, ensuring that all systems operate optimally. Embracing innovative solutions, especially those designed to minimize environmental impact, underscores the facility’s dedication to sustainability. This multifaceted strategy not only safeguards employees but also positions the facility as a responsible contributor to a sustainable and secure industrial landscape.

A Safer Workplace for Everyone

Maintaining the well-being of your workers is paramount, especially while working in hazardous environments.  CleanPlanet’s solvent recycling technology marks a new era of onsite solvent recycling, melding efficiency and safety. With their lineup of recyclers, you can reduce your reliance on virgin solvent while ensuring that workers are kept away from hazardous fumes and materials. Utilizing cutting-edge safety measures combined with proper training, education, and PPE will keep your facility operating safely into the future.

 

Develop your solvent safety program today!

Develop your solvent safety program today!

AlwaysClean 350 smart solvent recycler
CleanPlanet

Begin to reduce solvent costs, waste, and liabilities the modern way!

CleanPlanet

Begin to reduce costs, waste and liabilities the modern way.

CleanPlanet

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