Exposure Control and Process Safety Of Monomers in Selected Plastics and Rubber Industries
Kearney, Kevin M.
A review of the literature of monomers was conducted that incorporates polymer science and contemporary toxicology and epidemiology studies associated with their exposures. This review, supplemented with a history of monomer exposure control technologies and protocols, helped establish the basis for a questionnaire created to ascertain and examine best practices in process safety. This questionnaire, in the form of interviews, open discussions, and detailed entries, was employed to identify common themes applicable for consensus guidelines in the chemical industry. Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) professionals, including safety engineers and industrial hygienists, were recruited from a range of chemical companies that use monomers to produce plastics and rubbers. Among the observations by these professionals was the recognition of professional discipline as a key motivator of EHS best practices, especially during routine evaluation and implementation of safety programs. Another main observation was the importance of advancing worker and contactor training, in tandem with the retention of highly qualified workers. Results of this study suggested that progress in EHS may be inhibited by redundancies in safety programs, challenges in achieving zero incident targets, and requirements for third-party stewardship programs. Additionally, the commercial availability and support of state-of-the-art engineering controls and cooperation of experts within professional and trade associations were found to be major drivers in process safety. It is therefore crucial that regulatory directives and standards concerning polymer production are reevaluated, updated, and repurposed to provide flexibility in achieving compliance and risk prioritization.