A Guide to Safe Practice in Art & Design

7.3   Working in Plastics

When engaged in such processes as forge-work, soldering, casting, welding and acid pickling, teachers should make detailed reference to British Standard BS 4163. In all these processes it is essential that the teacher is properly trained and qualified.

7.3.1    Types of Plastics
7.3.2    Uncured Polyester Resin
7.3.3    Glass Fibre
 

7.3.1    Types of Plastics

The two main forms of plastics likely to be used in schools are thermo-plastics and thermo-setting plastics. Thermo-plastics are formed in a reversible process and can therefore be restored to their original form by the application of heat. They have the flammable hazardous properties of liquids rather than solids, and can also give off toxic fumes at elevated temperatures. Thermo-setting plastics do not have reversible properties and are made by mixing polyester and other polymer resins with appropriate catalysts. Most resins, accelerators and solvents come within the scope of the Highly Flammable Liquids and Liquefied Petroleum Gases Regulations (1972), which must be strictly observed. The preparation of polyurethane foam and other plastics should only be undertaken in a fume cupboard.

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7.3.2   Uncured Polyester Resin

Uncured polyester resin releases phenylethene fumes. Provided that only small quantities are being used and the area is well ventilated the fumes may not be harmful, but the risk involved depends upon an individual's sensitivity and therefore needs to be individually assessed.

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7.3.3    Glass Fibre

Some airborne fibre glass dust particles can cause lung damage and synthetic resins can be harmful to the skin.