The following is referenced from the American Chemistry Council’s recommendations for applying spray foam. View the full document titled “Guidance on Ventilation During Installation of Interior Applications of High-Pressure Spray Polyurethane Foam.” (website: http://polyurethane.americanchemistry.com/Spray-Foam-Coalition/Guidance-on-Ventilation-During-Installation-of-Interior-Applications-of-High-Pressure-SPF.pdf)
Who is responsible for constructing and using containment and mechanical ventilation systems?
According to OSHA regulations,6 SPF contractors have a legal responsibility to provide a safe workplace for all employees. In the case of high-pressure SPF application, use of engineering controls and proper PPE in the work zone during and after spraying is an important consideration to help achieve a safe workplace. In addition, it is a good practice for the SPF contractor to advise the building owner (homeowner or general contractor) of all hazards associated with SPF application. Conduct a meeting between the SPF contractor and the building owner before SPF application to discuss potential hazards, containment and ventilation methods, the importance of vacating, and when it is safe to reoccupy the building during and after SPF application.
What to consider when determining how long to continue ventilation after installation
After foam is applied, continue to follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding ventilation rate and duration to ventilate the work zone. Some of the factors affecting the ventilation period include specific foam formulations and cure times, ventilation rate and ambient temperature and humidity inside the containment. During this time, reentry includes only persons with appropriate PPE. Occupants can re-enter after the manufacturer’s stated reentry time.
The following is referenced from the American Chemistry Council’s “Guidance on Best Practices for the Installation of SPF.” (website: http://polyurethane.americanchemistry.com/Spray-Foam-Coalition/Guidance-on-Best-Practices-for-the-Installation-of-Spray-Polyurethane-Foam.pdf)
Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)
Before using any SPF product, read and understand the entire MSDS for the material. The MSDS contains very important information about the product, including the chemical constituents and the approximate concentrations; potential health effects; appropriate PPE for the job; first aid measures; information on how to handle accidental releases; and information on storage, handling, transportation, and disposal. It is an OSHA requirement to make MSDSs readily accessible at a jobsite. Keeping one clean copy of each current MSDS in a clearly marked binder is a good practice that helps keep the information readily accessible for employees and first responders. As noted above, OSHA is revising their Hazard Communication Standards and the term “Safety Data sheets” will replace MSDSs. (http://www.spraypolyurethane.org/WorkerProtection#MSDS)
Employee Training and Certification
Proper training before handling SPF chemicals is important. Contractors, applicators, and helpers can receive training from various sources, including manufacturers’ programs, the Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance (SPFA) Accreditation courses, and CPI SPF Chemical Health and Safety Online Training, among others. Please see Section 1 on Training and Advanced Preparation for more specifics.
General Preparation Steps
There are several steps to consider prior to the actual application of the foam insulation. Examples of steps to consider include:
1. Provide a briefing for the general contractor and/or owner of the building so they can better understand the scope of the work and the safety procedures to utilize during the application process.
2. Confirm necessary inspections associated with the other trades have been completed and approved prior to the installation of the insulation.
3. Confirm all permits are in place prior to the spraying operation.
4. Complete other trade work to avoid later disturbance of insulation.
5. Install warning signs and caution tapes.
6. Clear building occupants and non-SPF personnel from building. Consider utilizing the best practices for the use of containment and ventilation techniques detailed in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s “Ventilation Guidance for Spray Polyurethane Foam Application”: http://www.epa.gov/dfe/pubs/projects/spf/ventilation-guidance.html
7. Designate an area for putting on and removing PPE.
The following is referenced from the SprayFoam.org “Health and Safety” website (website: http://www.sprayfoam.org/)
The OSHA National Emphasis Program (NEP)
One of the most notable recent events impacting the SPF industry is the National Emphasis Program (NEP) on Isocyanates, published by OSHA June 2013. This Directive is applicable to all industries utilizing Isocyanates, and in the case of SPF, specifically Methylene Diphenyl Diisocyanate, or MDI. MDI is an important building block to many polyurethane products, but in the case of SPF it is part of a sprayed mixture and must be handled properly during installation. Isocyanates, the “A” side of SPF materials, are a known-sensitizer and exposure may lead to workplace respiratory ailments. As a pro, it is your job to make sure your crews and your customers are safe. You need to know and understand the requirements for compliance that are upon you, as described by the NEP, that are being enforced today.
SPFA makes compliance easier for you by offering information through committees, email, webinars, our publication Sprayfoam Professional Magazine, our Professional Certification Program (PCP), and breakout session presentations at SPFA’s annual national convention and expo. Many of these safety-oriented presentations are available in the Past Conventions portion of this website.
SPF Health & Safety Resources
SPFA works closely with groups like the American Chemistry Council (ACC), Center for the Polyurethanes Industry (CPI), the Sprayfoam Coalition (SFC) and many other groups working in concert with the industry to deliver the best, most comprehensive, accessible and useful information on SPF health and safety. Click on any of the following links that best describe you to be taken to jointly-created health and safety materials on SPF: