Dichloromethane monitoring: Understanding the new COSHH Essentials Direct Guidance Sheets published by the HSE

Dichloromethane (DCM), also known as methylene chloride is primarily used as an aerosol solvent and degreasing agent in industrial settings. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has released new COSHH Essentials direct guidance sheets to help workplaces control exposure to DCM, so it would be ideal to try and gain a better understanding of them. 

As an independent UK regulator with over 40 years of experience, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has a remit to support employers and employees in preventing work-related deaths, injuries and ill-health. It regularly publishes Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Essentials sheets that set out basic advice on what to do, to control exposure to hazardous substances in the workplace. They take the form of straight-forward ‘fact sheets’ or, as in this case, more industry-specific ‘guidance sheets’ that detail tasks and processes that should be adhered to.

How dangerous is Dichloromethane (DCM)?

Inhaling vapours of DCM may cause shortness of breath and coughing, which is why DCM-based products must only be used in ventilated areas, to prevent vapour build-up. Repeated or long-term exposure is suspected to cause cancer and higher concentrations can even cause death. DCM exposure controls should not be taken lightly.

Exposure to DCM is most likely to occur in a workplace where it is produced and used, so it’s primarily seen within transient and permanent industrial workplaces. It is important to ensure that exposure is prevented, or where this is not feasible, it must be adequately controlled.

What advice has the HSE published in its COSHH Essentials Guidance Sheets?

There is specific advice within the COSHH Essentials guidance sheets that includes the correct way to brush or spray adhesives and paint strippers, as well as how to strip the surface coatings from alloy wheels, to reduce exposure to an adequate level.

Further control measures, such as Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), are very effective ways to reduce exposure to DCM in the workplace. The HSE states that measures such as air sampling are also required, particularly for scenarios with higher risk of exposure. Using a workplace exposure monitoring programme alongside LEV and other safety measures can also help avoid over-exposure to hazardous materials such as DCM.

How can RPS help with DCM analysis?

Our Laboratories team at RPS, offers a high-quality service and we are well-equipped to deal with DCM-related analysis. We provide a UKAS accredited in-house method of analysis based on PD CEN/TS 13649, as well as media for DCM.

We can support you to ensure that your workers are not being. We offer two forms of media – a charcoal tube or alternatively a passive sampling badge at the client’s request – to cater to their needs for each individual job.

We can also analyse the compounds mentioned above that are present in DCM products, from our start-of-the-art Manchester Laboratory. Our highly qualified staff take pride in performing the best analysis and service to ensure that you are on top of your workers’ occupational hygiene requirements.

If you wish to make an enquiry or have any further questions with regards to DCM or any other compounds mentioned, please don’t hesitate to contact a member of our Sales Team below. We are always happy to help.

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