Epoxy has strong adhesive properties, chemical and heat resistance, and toughness. Do it yourself applicators should understand some of the risks of using epoxy products and know how to safely handle and apply these systems. (Refer to individual product instructions.)
The potential health hazards associated with epoxy floor systems vary. Exposure can result in skin and eye irritation, allergic skin reactions, respiratory tract irritation, and/or breathing difficulties. Most of the problems typically occur while applying the epoxy and subject to inhalation of epoxy chemical fumes.
Applicators should take into consideration space ventilation and protective gear when applying an epoxy floor. Some recommendations for handling, mixing, and applying epoxy systems are:
- Eye protection – Chemical goggles with side shields to protect against splashes, or goggles with an 8-inch or larger full-face shield should be worn.
- Gloves – Cotton and latex gloves, as well as barrier creams, are not sufficient to protect installers from epoxies. Best options for hand protection are ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH) laminate, butyl rubber, nitrile rubber, or neoprene. Applicators should wash and dry their hands before and after each use of gloves by using clean running water, a mild soap (pH neutral or slightly acidic), and clean towels.
- Clothing – Long Sleeves, Coveralls, Chemical-resistant aprons (like those made with butyl rubber.)
- Jewelry – Any jewelry should be removed during application. Chemicals can collect under rings, watches, and necklaces.
- Changing clothes – Workers should change into clean clothes before leaving job site. This protects against the risk of the epoxy spreading to an automobile interior. If the clothes cannot be left at the job, they should be taken home in a separate, sealed container.
- Boots – Use with pants taped inside to help protect the skin and prevent chemicals from entering through the top of the boots.
- Spiked shoes (Type offered for epoxy floor application)
For more information, contact OSHA.