COSHH and printers - key messages

Printing products like inks, lacquers, adhesives, cleaning solvents and others contain ingredients that are hazardous to health. You can breathe in vapours and mists. Products can get on your skin and cause skin problems or go through your skin and cause damage elsewhere. Problems can occur if exposure to hazardous substances is not controlled.

  • Solvents and inks can irritate the skin leading to dermatitis.
  • Some products can cause skin allergies and asthma (eg UV inks, laminating adhesives).
  • Some solvent vapours can make you dizzy, drowsy and affect your central nervous system.
  • Some ingredients can cause damage to internal organs over a long period of time (eg liver and kidney damage).
  • Some products are corrosive and can cause skin burns and eye damage (eg plate developers).

Preventing exposure to harmful substances usually means a combination of some of the following:

  • Provide good general ventilation of the workroom.
  • Enclose the process as far as possible and when necessary extract harmful vapours and mists.
  • Avoid contact with harmful substances and minimise leaks and spills.
  • You may also need to provide personal protective equipment like respirators, gloves and eye protection.
  • Practise good hand care – remove contamination promptly, wash hands properly, dry thoroughly and use skin creams regularly.

The controls you need depend on the printing process, the products used and the tasks undertaken. Visit the HSE printing web pages for more specific detailed information on the controls needed for a range of tasks carried out during common printing processes.
You can find more information on the COSSH essentials for printers web pages.

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