The chemical industry is one of the industries with the most stringent safety regulations. Regular revision, servicing and maintenance work is required because of the high levels of stress placed on equipment by exposure to very aggressive substances, and high temperatures and pressures. This e-fact focuses on the specific risks related to various dangerous substances that maintenance workers in chemical plants are exposed to, and gives some basic recommendations on how these risks can be managed, including some good practice examples.
Some chemicals may be used for maintenance (detergents, volatile organic compounds, gas oil, etc.), produced during the course of maintenance (e.g. metal oxides and phosgene from welding, diesel engine exhaust, etc.) or present/produced in the facility (e.g. carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), 1,3-butadiene and benzene, xylene, toluene, hydrogen sulphide, mercury, chlorine gas, mono-isocyanates (polyurethanes), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), epichlorohydrin (epoxy resins), ethylene oxide (used in the production of polyethylene terephthalate (PET), nickel or cobalt, and inorganic acids).