Health and safety topics in the rubber and tyre industries

These are the main causes of reportable accidents:

Manual handling

This is the biggest cause of reportable accidents in the rubber industry, causing around 40% of all those reported to the HSE.

Hit by moving or falling objects

These account for 14% of injuries. Inadequate security of loads on road vehicles can cause these type of injuries. Heavy loads, including tyres, can move during transit if they have not been correctly loaded and secured when being transported, particularly on curtain sided vehicles. They can fall off during the journey or when the vehicle is opened. This has caused many fatalities and serious injuries. HSE therefore commissioned a research report that gives examples of good practice and the actions you should take to safely transport loads.

Load security on curtain sided lorries

Slips and trips

Accidents from slips, trips and falls on the same level are the fourth main cause of accidents in the rubber industry causing 13% of injuries.

Rubber dust and fumes

Historically there was an increased risk of bladder cancers in the rubber industry workers,  associated with exposure to beta-naphthylamine, which was banned in the 1950s. In 2001 RUBIAC reviewed the evidence on occupational cancers in the rubber industry and published a statement clarifying the position. This statement was updated in 2007.

Safe to Breathe – Dust and fume control in the rubber industry is aimed at both employers and employees and  provides practical guidance on effective dust and fume control in the rubber industry.

As part of HSE's Disease Reduction Programme (DRP) cancer project a report was produced by HSL to gather information on the inhalation exposures to rubber process dust, rubber fume and nitrosamines in the UK GRG industry. The report was endorsed by the Rubber Industry Advisory Committee (RUBIAC).

Report RR819 -  A small survey of exposure to rubber process dust, rubber fume and N-nitrosamines

Occupational Health in the polyurethane industry - MbOCA

MbOCA (2,2′-Dicholoro-4,4'-methylene dianiline) is used as a curing agent in the manufacture of moulded polyurethane articles. MbOCA may cause bladder cancer if it is inhaled, absorbed through the skin or ingested with food, drink or cigarettes. RUBIAC issued a statement on this subject in December 2008.

Local exhaust ventilation


Noise levels at heavy mixing machinery in particular often exceed 85dB(A).

HSE noise website

Controlling the risk from fires

There have been a number of serious fires that have occurred at sites involved in the storage, treatment and handling of rubber based products, such as whole, shredded and crumbed tyres. There should therefore be adequate controls in place to prevent fires and, should a fire occur, that the risks to human health and the environment are minimised. Reducing fire risk at waste management sites has been produced to help operators and other duty holders to control these risks. See also Spontaneous heating of piled tyre shred and crumb

Is this page useful?

Updated 2023-03-16