Polyurethane Manufacturing

The Risk of Polyurethane Manufacturing and Effective Solutions

Any manufacturer faces risks, and just as any other manufacturer; there are risks to manufacturing polyurethane. Polyurethane is needed and used more than ever across multiple industries in a variety of forms. Polyurethane needs to be produced rapidly while maintaining quality and safety and needs to be done so in an efficient fashion. There are precautions to avoid risk to the workers and facilities that handle the materials every day. As a soft foam, polyurethane is an essential component of furniture, rubber, and more. As a liquid, polyurethane can be found as insulation or sealant in homes worldwide – its versatility makes it indispensable! 

While the application, structure, and chemistry of polyurethane can be found in an almost infinite amount of variations, safety concerns remain constant. When working with polyurethane, you are often working with hot products or raw materials, which can raise exposure concerns. Storing and moving chemicals for production also poses risks. While the application, structure, and manufacturing process of polyurethane foam can change from one manufacturing facility to the next, there are a number of common risks that could affect every manufacturing plant. As polyurethane products are produced, whether it’s liquid or solid, we need to be aware at all times what materials and chemicals workers may come into contact with and how best to handle such exposures should they occur. The following suggestions are ways we recommend managing the risks of manufacturing polyurethane. *While we are a production facility, these are merely suggestions.* 

Company Standards

Effective Risk Management Strategies are vital for dealing with any chemical exposure, spills, etc. Having an established plan in place for managing each step along the manufacturing process is a key component to managing risks. Ensuring the appropriate safety standards is an essential part of managing risks. Every worker should not only be fully trained to notice any exposures to hazardous chemicals but also how to adequately respond to such exposures. With further training and safety protocols, employees can better manage risks and avoid unnecessary exposure. The proper training can ensure the day-to-day actions are consistent with established plans and goals. Part of this includes safety inspections, planned preventative maintenance, inspection documentation, and testing process equipment.

Here are some precautions that can be taken to reduce the risk of accidents occuring:

– Keeping a Maintenance and Operations manual on-site.
– Establishing an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) for both production and administrative personnel
– Providing Safety Data Sheets (SDS’s) that identifies potential hazards of materials used in manufacturing polyurethane products
– Conducting training sessions throughout the year to keep staff up-to-date on any new developments or information about manufacturing practices, materials, etc. By following proper engineering controls, you can protect your workers from chemical exposure during manufacturing.

Bulk Storage Systems 

Many companies rely on ordering, hauling, storing and managing materials in 55-gallon drums as opposed to holding takes. While these practices are commonplace, companies with more significant production demands may experience inefficiency within production when using 55-gallon drums. Expanded storage systems or chemical holding tanks can offer a financial benefit to promote personal and environmental polyurethane safety. Allowing for concentrated deliveries and minimizing the number of separate storage containers can cut down on costs. In comparison to 270-gallon totes, 55-gallon drums can accumulate to dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of drums taking up time and space. Workers are often moving and handling drums and totes manually. The more movement, the more the risk of an accident which ultimately poses a threat to employees, equipment, and the work environment. Storage tanks can significantly reduce the contact workers, and operators have with such chemicals.

Liquid Transportation Systems 

Safety precautions are essential to manufacturing polyurethane products no matter what form they come in – liquid or solid. To promote safety during transportation, using self-closing valves is one way to provide containment if a hose ruptures during transportation. This is one of the most significant safety concerns when manufacturing polyurethane liquids is making sure they are not spilling or leaking out in transit. Using a combination between tank trucks, rail cars, and/or pipelines can be beneficial for transporting liquid polyurethane products.

Polyurethane Equipment

Polyurethane production can pose a threat to the environment as well. At Sterling, we do everything we can to help the environment. We have spent years refining our processes for foam fabrication and have been able to recycle 95% of our by-products, ultimately reducing our footprint. Part of this process has been finding the right equipment. Using environmentally-friendly equipment to eliminate the use of harmful blowing agents is a big part of this effort. By doing this we have been able to reduce the amount of off-gassing in manufacturing and ultimately pollution. The right equipment can also help you meet emission standards by capturing a percentage of these chemicals before they are released into the atmosphere!

Overall Risk Management 

There will always be risks in polyurethane manufacturing but creating effective practices and procedures when manufacturing polyurethane is an important part of achieving a constant high level of production. Managing risks when manufacturing polyurethane is essential for worker safety and environmental protection. By following proper engineering controls and enforcing proper PPE you can protect your workers, equipment, and the work environment. Furthermore, using bulk storage systems or chemical tanks for liquid polyurethane transportation can reduce costs and reduce exposure to hazardous chemicals during the manufacturing and transportation of this versatile material! Of course, there are safety regulations and standards that every production facility must meet. Any changes to manufacturing processes must be thoroughly evaluated and tested to ensure they maintain compliance with all existing safety standards. 

Safety should always be a top priority, especially when handling products that can be dangerous. Because of our dedication to keeping workers safe and manufacturing compliance standards up-to-date, Sterling is able to produce top-quality products at a rapid rate with minimal risk within the facility!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.