The CARE Guidance Documents form a comprehensive library of information on the safe handling and use of HTIW products.
They have been written by industry experts and are designed to give customers of ECFIA members helpful information to put in place effective controls to minimise exposure to airborne fibres. This document series will progressively expand as new guidance is produced.
There is just one overarching Level 1 guidance document: „Working with HTIW – Effective risk management“. This document provides an overview of the key processes, principles and procedures that should be followed for controlling (eliminating or reducing) exposure in the HTIW workplace.
The Level 2 guidance documents provide more detail on risk management measures applicable to HTIW. They cover important generic elements of exposure control – for example, good housekeeping and handling, product and process substitution, local exhaust ventilation (LEV), and how to control exposure during mixing and forming.
The Level 3 guidance documents provide guidance on particular scenarios or applications and are often referenced in the Level 2 documents. Examples of Level 3 topics include enclosure of raw material mixing stations, the use of saws, and avoiding exposure during module manufacture.
All Level 2 and Level 3 documents must be read in conjunction with the overarching Level 1 document.
This document is an overview of the process that should be followed for controlling (eliminating or reducing) exposure in the workplace. This is the level 1 document in the ECFIA Workplace reference series that should be followed for controlling exposure to fibrous dust in air when working with HTIW.
What are the ECFIA Workplace Recommendation Documents?
These documents form a comprehensive library of information on safe handling and use of HTIW products. They have been written by industry experts and are designed to give customers of ECFIA members helpful information to put in place effective controls to minimise exposure to airborne fibres. This series of documents will progressively grow as new documents are produced.
Level 1 guidance document: General approach to effective risk management. Level 2 guidance documents: Risk management measures and applicability to HTIW. Level 3 guidance documents: Examples for specific applications .
What are exposure control measures?
Control measures are generally a combination of technological solutions and working practices to eliminate or reduce exposure. Selecting the right combination is very important and measures will only work effectively if they are properly applied.
Hierarchy of Controls
There is an order or priority when it comes to evaluating controls. The best controls are those applied to or used at the source or point of dust emission. Controlling emissions is preferable to allowing dust to spread into the work environment and then using other means to reduce exposure, such as housekeeping.
The hierarchy is as follows:
Change to alternative materials: remove the hazardous substance from the existing process. Care must be taken to ensure that any substitute is not classified, or is classified in a lower hazard category than the original. This should be discussed with your supplier to make sure the right technical solution is found, as well as being acceptable from a health and safety stance.
Change the process: Use different technology to avoid using the hazardous substance.
Procedures for elimination or substitution are specific for hazardous materials and are detailed in the level 2 document series. The other control measures, detailed below, form good working practices for the use of hazardous and non-hazardous materials.
Process Design to minimise exposure
Change to ready to use product forms: this solution can often significantly reduce the fibrous dust exposure by using products specifically designed for an application, for example by using pre cut or encapsulated pieces to avoid further finishing.
Automate and/or enclose: in many cases dust generation is inherent in the setup of the job or the organisation of the work process itself. Changing the process design is often possible and is frequently done to improve efficiency or introduce new technologies. In many cases it is possible to review and change the process design to minimise workers‘ exposure. This can be done by enclosing and or automating the whole or part of the process for example.
Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV): where it is not possible to avoid dust generation LEV should be used to remove the fibrous dust emission as close to the source as possible. Further information on LEV can be found in the level 2 risk management document „Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) systems for HTIW“.
Limit Access (mandatory for substances classified under the new REACH CLP system, Regulation on Classification, Labelling and Packaging of Substances and Mixtures, in carcinogen category 1B or 1A): Procedures should be in place to minimise the number of workers that are exposed to dust in the workplace. Access to areas where fibrous dust exposure can be reasonably expected should be limited to as few a workers as possible
Good Housekeeping: hygiene practices assist in keeping the work environment clean and prevent materials deposited on floors and work surfaces from becoming airborne. Further information on good housekeeping can be found in the level 2 document „Good housekeeping and working practices“.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
If it is not possible to adequately control the fibre levels using the above methods it is necessary to use the correct type of PPE and ensure that it is properly fitted and in good condition. For further information please see the level 2 document „Personal protective equipment for HTIW“.
Information and Training
Training of staff should include specific working practices to minimise exposure, as well as general information for all workers on health and safety aspects of HTIW. For further information please see the level 2 document „HTIW relevant training“.
In conclusion, for each process in the workplace an evaluation should be carried out to determine the best method of risk management. In many cases it will be necessary to combine a number of different measures to control the process to achieve dust levels below the local requirements and as low technically feasible.
The Level 2 documents deal with risk management measures. They cover generic practices and procedures that should be applied to limit exposure to fibrous dust in a range of situations and scenarios, linked principally to key activities (functional jobs) within the workplace.
At present, there are several documents at this level, covering monitoring methods for airborne fibres, use of personal protective equipment, training, exposure reduction through use of alternative product forms and processes, finishing applications, mixing and forming operations, good housekeeping and hygiene and local exhaust ventilation.
Monitoring methods for airborne fibres
This document focuses on monitoring methods for airborne fibres that can be used to establish if workplace controls are adequate and that worker exposure has been minimised. It is not intended to be used as a tool to carry out monitoring but as a guide to highlight key points of monitoring which should be considered when choosing a professional to carry out occupational hygiene monitoring.
Use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
There are a number of situations in which it can be envisaged that there would be a need for PPE in addition to or instead of other control measures. This document details the various types of PPE and discusses different options, particularly in regard to respiratory protection.
Exposure reduction through use of alternative product forms and processes
This document provides information on potential means of reducing workplace exposure to HTIW dust by the use of alternative product forms and processes. The advice provided in this document is generic (i.e. it applies to all HTIW products).
Finishing is the preparation of HTIW products for installation or final use and can incorporate a number of activities, done both by hand (manual) and by machine (automated or semi-automated). These activities can involve high or low energy processes.
Good Housekeeping and Handling Practises for HTIW
Dust is generated when products are handled or machined. In order to reduce the amount of airborne dust generated when handling HTIW based products, recommended handling practices are summarised in this guidance document.
Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) Systems for HTIW
LEV systems operate on the principle of capturing a contaminant at, or as close as possible to, the source of emission. The first consideration should always be to avoid generating emissions. If emissions cannot be avoided, LEV is the preferred method of control.
The Level 3 documents give detailed consideration to specific activities/operations and the use of particular machinery likely to be encountered in a workplace in which HTIW is used or manipulated, with the aim of limiting or controlling exposure to fibrous dust. There are several documents are available, covering raw material handling, use of hand tools, saws and sanders, assembly operations, installation and removal operations, die-cutting and warehouse operations.
This document focuses on ways to reduce airborne fibrous dust concentrations when carrying out assembly operations. Assembly operations are defined as small scale operations carried out in industrial facilities away from the final installation site.
Maintenance and Repair Operations
This document provides information on potential means of reducing workplace exposure to HTIW (fibrous) dust during maintenance and repair operations in high temperature process installations such as furnaces. The advice provided here is generic.
Powered hand tools
Control measures for any finishing functions, including use of powered hand tools, are generally a combination of technological solutions and working practises to eliminate or reduce exposure. Selecting the right combination is very important and measures will only work effectively if they are used properly.
Modules are manufactured to specified shapes and designs using a range of different machinery, equipment and techniques. In general, ‘modules’ consist of blanket strips which are pressed together to form blocks and held together with various aids.
Partial or total enclosure design for a raw material feeding station
HTIW bulk/wool (and offcuts) and other dusty raw materials are used in various secondary processes, such as forming, where HTIW and other ingredients (i.e. binder) are mixed in water to produce shaped parts (boards, pipes etc.).
Each document shows (in the top right corner) the date of first publication followed, where applicable, by the revision version and date. The guidance documents are reviewed periodically and revised and reissued as appropriate. If, for whatever reason, the need for an immediate revision is identified, the document shall be amended and reissued as soon as is practicable.