In Japan, accidents of organic solvent poisoning occurred frequently (including deaths) mainly in some companies in the early 1955’s. As a preventive law, this law was enacted in 1960.
After that, in 1972, the “safety and health” part of the “Labor Standards Law” was separated and became independent, and it was established as the “Industrial Safety and Health Act”. At that time, the “organic solvent prevention rule” will be incorporated, and it will be the present after several revisions.
Type of organic solvent
Organic solvents are used to dissolve other substances, and are organic compounds that are liquid at room temperature, but there are about 500 known types that are industrially used. Of these, 54 types are subject to Ordinance on Prevention of Organic Solvent Poisoning, and in descending order of toxicity, they are classified into first (7 types), second (40 types), and third-class (7 types) organic solvents.
Common from first to third-class organic solvents
1. It is necessary to appoint an organic solvent work chief (those who have completed the course of a designated educational institution) (Article 19 of the ordinance) and to hold the duties and name of the chief at easily visible position in the workplace.
2. The precautions for handling organic solvents and their effects on the human body must be posted at easily visible location in the workplace. (Article 24 of the ordinance)
3. The employer must indicate the classification of the organic solvents at easily visible location using color codes: red as first-class, yellow as second-class and blue as third-class organic solvents. (Article 25 of the ordinance)
4. When storing organic solvents indoors, it is necessary to use certain containers, to prevent workers other than assigned workers from entering, and to install the equipment to exhaust organic solvent vapor to the outside. (Article 35 of the ordinance)
5. An empty container which was previously used to contain organic solvents must be sealed or collected in a fixed place outdoors. (Article 36 of the ordinance)
For first and second-class organic solvents
1. The employer must install equipment to seal up the emission source of organic solvent vapour, a local exhaust ventilation system or a push-pull type ventilation system. (Article 5 of the ordinance)
2. A qualified work environment measurer or work environment measurement institute measures concentrations of organic solvents in the air regularly at least once every 6 months in indoor workshops. (Article 28 of the ordinance)
3. The employer shall have each employee who is regularly engaged in organic solvents work undergo medical examination by a medical doctor at the time of the employment, before transfer to the said work, and then periodically every 6 months. (Paragraph 2, Article 29 of the ordinance) For specified organic solvents, special screening for urinary metabolites, anemia, liver function, fundus, etc. will be performed. (Paragraph 3, Article 29 of the ordinance) When a medical examination for organic solvents is performed, a medical certificates for organic solvents, etc. should be prepared and preserved for at least 5 years. In addition, an individual form for medical examination of the organic solvent should be prepared and preserved for at least 5 years, and the employer shall submit a report on the results of the medical examination including the diagnosis of the effect of the organic solvent, etc., to the head of the competent local Labor Standards Inspection Office. (Article 30 / Article 30-2 of the ordinance)
4. For first and second-class organic solvents, “name”, “ingredient”, “content”, “caution” etc. are always displayed. Keep them in mind. (Article 57 of Industrial Safety and Health Act) In the case of third-class organic solvents, there are different things that must be taken depending on whether the windows, etc. are open. In other words, an indoor workplace where the ratio of the area of windows or other openings that are directly open to the outside air to the total area of the ceiling, floor, and surrounding walls is 3% or less is an “indoor workplace with insufficient ventilation”. According to the ordinance, it is regulated as “inside the tank etc.”
Work inside of a tank
1. Common matters mentioned above
2. As with first and second-class organic solvents, install a closed equipment or a local exhaust ventilation system, or a general ventilation system to have workers use the air-supplied respirators or gas masks for organic gases. (Article 6, Article 33 of the ordinance)
Ventilation equipment and work environment measurement are expensive, so if you are currently using organic solvents containing first and second-class designated substances, we recommend that you switch to a substitute. This will lead to cost reduction of equipment and measurement costs, maintenance of the health of field workers, and protection of the global environment.