Saturday, May 5, 2012

OH&S Procedures in Fiber Studios[1-3]
Art Resource

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

This is the third blog in the "Art Resource" series, specifically aimed to construct an appropriate knowledge base in order to develop an artistic voice in ArtCloth. Other posts in this series are:
Glossary of Terms
Units Used In Dyeing And Printing Of Fabrics
A Brief History Of Color
The Nature Of Color
Psychology Of Color
Color Schemes
The Naming of Colors
Munsell Color Classification System
Methuen Color Index And Classification System
The CIE System
Pantone - A Modern Color Classification System
Optical Properties of Fiber Materials
General Properties of Fiber Polymers and Fibers - Part I
General Properties of Fiber Polymers and Fibers - Part II
General Properties of Fiber Polymers and Fibers - Part III
General Properties of Fiber Polymers and Fibers - Part IV
General Properties of Fiber Polymers and Fibers - Part V
Protein Fibers - Wool
Protein Fibers - Speciality Hair Fibers
Protein Fibers - Silk
Protein Fibers - Wool versus Silk
Timelines of Fabrics, Dyes and Other Stuff
Cellulosic Fibers (Natural) - Cotton
Cellulosic Fibers (Natural) - Linen
Other Natural Cellulosic Fibers
General Overview of Man-Made Fibers
Man-Made Cellulosic Fibers - Viscose
Man-Made Cellulosic Fibers - Esters
Man-Made Synthetic Fibers - Nylon
Man-Made Synthetic Fibers - Polyester
Man-Made Synthetic Fibers - Acrylic and Modacrylic
Man-Made Synthetic Fibers - Olefins
Man-Made Synthetic Fibers - Elastomers
Man-Made Synthetic Fibers - Mineral Fibers
Man Made Fibers - Other Textile Fibers
Fiber Blends
From Fiber To Yarn: Overview - Part I
From Fiber to Yarn: Overview - Part II
Melt-Spun Fibers
Characteristics of Filament Yarn
Yarn Classification
Direct Spun Yarns
Textured Filament Yarns
Fabric Construction - Felt
Fabric Construction - Nonwoven Fabrics
A Fashion Data Base
Fiber Construction - Leather
Fabric Construction - Films
Glossary of Colors, Dyes, Inks, Pigments and Resins
Fabric Construction – Foams and Poromeric Material
Glossary of Fabrics, Fibers, Finishes, Garments and Yarns
Weaving and the Loom
Similarities and Differences in Woven Fabrics
The Three Basic Weaves - Plain Weave (Part I)
The Three Basic Weaves - Plain Weave (Part II)
The Three Basic Weaves - Twill Weave
The Three Basic Weaves - Satin Weave
Figured Weaves - Leno Weave
Figured Weaves – Piqué Weave
Figured Fabrics
Glossary of Art, Artists, Art Motifs and Art Movements

The Glossary of Terms, Timelines of Fabrics, Dyes and Other Stuff, A Fashion Data Base, Glossary of Colors, Dyes, Inks, Pigments and Resins, Glossary of Fabrics, Fibers, Finishes, Garments and Yarns and Glossary of Art, Artists, Art Motifs and Art Movements have been updated in order to better inform your art practice.

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My husband is an Emeritus Professor of Physical Chemistry and so occupational, health and safety (OH&S) issues was to the front and fore of his thinking very early in my art practice. As he use to put it to me - "No life, no art!"

Many artists set up their studios and happily work with their art practice and media of choice. Quite often when their art practice enters new territories, home studio artists assume that their facilitates are sufficient to handle whatever materials, chemicals, paints etc. that they may utilize in a safe manner without giving proper attention to the OH&S issues that these new practices may present.

This Art Resource gives a basic guide to establishing an OH&S practice with respect to your home studio. It is only a basic framework and so each home studio artist should be aware of a more detailed framework engineered to her or his specific studio and to his or her art practice. It is not meant to be a catch-it-all.

Some of you will read this and say – “I only have a small room in the house that I call a studio”. I understand that situation – been there, done that! Nevertheless, this should not alter your mindset of seeking the most accident and incident free OH&S environment for your art practice.

The three references cited below were invaluable for this blog.

Emergency Services and Heath Contacts
OH&S 1: Emergency Numbers Need To Be Visible.
Your home studio should have a sizeable display containing emergency and non-emergency numbers. For example emergency numbers should include: police, ambulance and fire emergency. You should also include non-emergency numbers such as: your doctor, government departments dealing with public safety, chemical hazards, occupational health and safety procedures. These numbers should be large enough for you to see (without glasses) from 1 to 2 meters. You should never solely rely on the internet or phone books to retrieve such information when faced with an emergency.

OH&S 2: Mobile Phone Needs To Be Handy.
Most of us have mobile phones. Always take a mobile phone with you in your home studio and moreover, place it in an easy to reach but safe location.

OH&S 3: Fighting Gear Needs To Be Near.
All home studios should contain: fire extinguishers, electrical fire-extinguishes and first-aid kit(s). They should be easily seen, readily available and regularly updated. All home studios should have smoke detectors.

OH&S 4: Ventilation Is Protection.
If you only have a window and a door in your home studio, install a ceiling fan or purchase a moveable fan. Keep as many spaces open to fresh air as possible (weather permitting).

If you have a garden, then it is a well-ventilated space. Do not hesitate to use it. However, make sure that other safety procedures are not discarded when using your garden, since you may now find yourself sharing this space with animals, children, spouses and relatives etc.

My outside studio is well ventilated. It sometimes serves as an outside pergola and so I need to throughly clean it after studio use.

OH&S 5: A Sharing Space Is A Caring Space.
Sharing a working space will always place an added pressure with respect to OH&S issues, since you cannot determine or predict the actions or reactions of the person/animal, who is sharing your space and moreover, you now have a responsibility with respect to them. Think of what can go wrong and place in appropriate protections.

My hard working studio assistant - the late Caelum (2000-2012) - who was named after a star constellation in the southern hemisphere.
Note: My inside studio is a converted two door garage - too artistically messy to make it on this blog!

OH&S 6: Free Space Is A Safe Space.
It is dangerous to walk on, or in-between items such as paint pots, rolls of cloths, electrical cables, extension cords and distribution boards etc. A great OH&S rule-of-thumb is prior to working, store all unwanted items and consciously organize a free floor space. A messy studio can still be safe from an OH&S point-of-view, since what is on or safely under tables etc. and the separation of incompatible materials is of far greater concern than an outward looking neat space.

OH&S 7: Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind.
Make sure that the working environment is well lit. The OH&S rule-of-thumb is that the more items that can be seen, the better the safety of your working space. If you are working with light sensitive textile surfaces you need to give thought to the lighting problem that has been introduced into your art practice (e.g. you can use a special light that is cloth insensitive instead of the usual white light etc.)

OH&S 8: The Only Shock Is Shocking Art.
All portable power distribution boards should have “surge” protectors, and all power points should have the additional protection via fuses or circuit breakers. Outdoor, kitchen, and bathroom receptacles should be protected by a special ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) circuit breaker to guard against electrocution. The latter is highly sensitive to any electrical short, and so this type of breaker may need resetting more frequently than standard breakers and should be tested periodically.

OH&S 9: One Plug, One Socket.
The OH&S rule-of-thumb is to only use one adaptor/plug per socket – do not plug one distribution board into another. When using a distribution board try keeping to the one plug per socket rule.

Extension leads and adaptors have a limit on how many amperes (amps) they can take, so be careful not to overload them, thereby reducing the risk of fire.

For plugs and sockets, keep a look out for the following:
* “Hot” plugs or sockets, scorch marks, fuses that often blow, or flickering lights – they are all are signs of loose wiring or other electrical problems.
* Badly wired plugs – any colored wires sticking out could come loose and debris could also get into the plug.
* Overloaded sockets – plugging too many electrical appliances into one socket can lead to overheating - keep to the one plug per socket rule, where possible.
* Unplug appliances that are sensitive to power spikes.
* If you have fuses: a blown fuse will look blackened or discolored. Replace it with a new one of the correct rating for the circuit (typically 15 amps).
* If you have circuit breakers: turn the one that is "off" back to "on". Using a qualified electrician try to determine what caused the problem and correct it. It is useless to replace a fuse or reset a circuit breaker only to have it to blow or trip again. Always get an expert to look at circuits that short frequently.
* If there is an electrical fire, pull the plug out, or switch off the power at the fuse/circuit breaker box - if it is safe to do so. Sometimes this can stop the fire immediately.

OH&S 10: Water Is Not Always Cool.
Never use water on an electrical fire, and do not take any risks with your safety - get out, stay out and call the emergency number.

Safety When Using Chemicals Such As Dyes
OH&S 11: It Does Not Hurt To Ask – It Can Hurt If You Don’t.
When purchasing any chemical (e.g. dyes, paints etc.) you should always request with the purchase a material safety data sheet (MSDS). MSDS are written in plain English specifically aimed for a person with little chemical knowledge. Typically they will contain: product identification; physical and chemical dates (including any incompatibilities); health hazard data and first aid measures; precautions for use; safe handling information; other information – such as emergency numbers etc. If you are not sure about any of the information delivered by the MSDS then you should contact the appropriate government body and ask.

Most dyers use caustic soda - also known as lye, but to scientists known as sodium hydroxide (its chemical name). Typically for caustic soda an MSDS will contain the following information.
General Appearance: Colorless sticks, flakes, powder or pellets; soluble in water.
General Threat: Causes severe burns.
Threshold Limit Value (TLV): Prevent contact with eyes and skin - TLV 2 mg m-3.
Toxic Effects: The solid and its strong solutions cause severe burns of the eyes and skin. If taken by mouth there would be sever internal irritation and damage. Even weak solution (2.5M) can damage eyes severely.
Hazardous Reactions: Release large amounts of heat when mixed with small amounts of water; reacts vigorously with cholorform/methanol; explosion results when it is heated with zirconium.
First Aid: Affected eyes: standard treatment. Skin contact: standard treatment. If swallowed: standard treatment.
Spillage Disposal: Wear face-shield or goggles and gloves. Shovel into a polythene bucket, and add, a little at a time with stirring, to a large volume of water. After solution is complete run this to waste, diluting greatly with running water. Wash down site of spillage thoroughly with water.

Flakes of Lye.

Standard Treatments
OH&S 12: Splashes On Skin.
If the chemical responsible is hydrogen fluoride, hydrofluoric acid or a related compound then this procedure should not be used. These chemicals are rarely used in dyeing or printing.
(a) Flood the splashed surface thoroughly with large quantities of running water and continue for at least 10 minutes, or until you are satisfied that no chemical remains in contact with the skin. Removal of splashes with solvents, solutions and chemicals known to be insoluble in water will be facilitated by the use of soap.
(b) Remove all contaminated clothing, taking care not to contaminate yourself in the process.
(c) If the situation warrants it, arrange for transport to hospital or refer to medical advice to the nearest doctor. Provide information on the chemical responsible and brief details of first aid employed.

OH&S 13: Splashes To The Eyes.
If the chemical responsible is hydrogen fluoride, hydrofluoric acid or a related compound then this procedure should not be used. These chemicals are rarely used in dyeing or printing.
(a) Flood the eye(s) thoroughly with large quantities of gently running water either from a tap or from one of the eye wash bottles (if available) at least for 10 minutes.
(b) Ensure the water bathes the eyeball by gently prising open eyelids and keeping them apart until treatment is completed.
(c) All eye injuries from chemicals require medical advice. Arrange a visit to a doctor or hospital and supply information on the chemical responsible and brief details of the treatment already given.

OH&S 14: Inhalation Of Gases Or Fumes.
If the chemical responsible is hydrogen fluoride, hydrofluoric acid or a related compound then this procedure should not be use. These chemicals are rarely used in dyeing or printing.
(a) Remove yourself and anyone else, out of the danger area as quickly as possible.
(b) Loosen clothing. Administer oxygen if available.
(c) If alone, seek the company of another person as quickly as possible in order to ensure personal assistance as quickly as possible. In other words, whilst conscious it is important that someone may assist you if you become unconscious or too ill to act.
(d) If emergency warrants, go to a hospital and provide information on the gas and/or fumes responsible with brief details of the first aid treatment given.

OH&S 15: Ingestion Of Chemicals.
(a) If the chemical has been confined to the mouth give large quantities of water as a mouth wash. Ensure that the mouth wash is not swallowed.
(b) If the chemical has been swallowed give copious drinks of water or milk to dilute it in the stomach.
(c) Do not induce vomiting.
(d) Arrange for transport to hospital. Provide information on the chemical swallowed with brief details of the treatment given and if possible, an estimate of the quantity and concentration of the chemical consumed.

Note: These are a summary of standard treatments and may not be valid for each and every specific circumstance. That is why MSDS information should be sought on every chemical that is used in your studio.

Generally, substances used in home studios are relatively non-toxic, but it is best to avoid unnecessary exposure. Keep in mind that they are industrial chemicals and not intended for inhalation or ingestion. Safety precautions and proper use of safety equipment, clean work habits and responsible use of substances is encouraged. Note: Many artists believe natural dyes are non-toxic. Logwood is a natural dye that is toxic. Do not assume, make it your business to know.

You should always use the following common sense safeguards.
* Do not eat, drink, or smoke in areas where dyes and chemicals are used.
* Work in a well-ventilated area.
* If you experience an adverse symptom, move away from the area to fresh air. If the symptoms persist, stop using the substance and consult your doctor immediately.
* Even though the skin does not usually absorb dyes, they do discolor the skin. You should always wear rubber gloves, old clothes or protective clothing and footwear.
* Wear goggles when working with corrosive chemicals such as acetic acid and sodium hydroxide (lye). You only have one set of eyes (which are hard to replace!)
* Contact lens wearers should be careful around powders and chemicals to avoid eye irritation. Some chemicals can make the contact lens stick to your cornea.
* Cover your work area with dampened newspaper. If you mix your own dyes from powder, weigh and mix dyes and other powders in a very well ventilated space or purchase a mixing box.
* Wear a disposable dust/mist respirator if you mix dyes occasionally. If you mix dyes on a regular basis wear a MSHA/NIOSH approved respirator with cartridges for dust, mists and fumes. Note: Disposable dust/mist respirators do not help with fumes.
* Use appropriate utensils to stir solutions and dye baths. If you use food utensils as dyeing tools do not reuse them for food preparation.
* Do not smell pots or bottles filled with dyestuffs or chemicals; some fumes may be toxic.
* Do not hold your face above warm dyebaths to which chemicals have been added, since these fumes may also be toxic.
* Avoid exposure to dye powders, auxiliary chemicals and vapors during pregnancy or lactation. Always consult your doctor if in doubt.
* Avoid prolonged or repeated contact with the skin.
* Mop up wet dyes from floors and surfaces, but do not sweep them with a mop. Wipe up spills immediately. Liquid dye dried to a powder can be accidentally inhaled or ingested.
* Keep mixed dyes in a dedicated refrigerator. Keep auxiliary containers closed and in a dedicated cool dry place, when not in use.
* Label containers with your name, content and date mixed so they can be disposed of in a timely manner.
* Clearly label all solutions and containers of powder. Do not remove the supplier's name or hazard warning labels.
* Always add acid to water and not the other way round since the latter will sputter and may throw up acid droplets.
* Always add sodium hydroxide (lye) to cold water and not the other way round.
* When working with small acid or lye quantities use a small pipette with a rubber end, which you squeeze. Never use a pipette in which you need to suck in order to draw up the liquid.
*Clean up the dye area completely after the dyeing is complete to ensure there is no dye powder to pollute the atmosphere.
* Dispose of dye residue carefully (see below).

OH&S 16: A Safe Disposal Is The Right Disposal.
Generally quantities of dyes and auxiliary chemicals used in home studios do not exceed limits set for disposal in municipal systems. Nevertheless, always check with your local authority. The amount of rinse water used for a normal dye bath is sufficient to dilute the dye bath for disposal purposes. Therefore, generally waste-water disposal should not be a problem but check if in doubt.

Once dyes have been made up they are not as toxic as their powdered form. Azoic, fiber reactive and vat dyes may be disposed of easily.
* Exhaust all baths - tip naphthol or vat fluids together and let fiber reactive dyes stand for one hour after dyeing.
* Strain the liquid through the fabric.
* Put the liquid from dyebaths 1 and 2 rinsing water into a large holding tank or bucket.
* Test the pH of the holding tank with litmus indicator papers and adjust to neutral by adding either acid or alkali.
* Discharge onto the land through a fabric strainer.
Note: This method only applies for naphthols, fiber reactives, and soluble vat dyes.

OH&S 17: Cleaning Up Is Not A Chore - It’s Your Business.

Cleaning up the work area is usually performed with a damp sponge and towels. Generally dye stains can be removed with a house-hold cleaner containing bleach. Do not use bleach to remove dye stains from hands. Instead use a specifically designed hand cleaner – such as Reduran. While hands are dry, rub a small amount of hand cleaner on hands and work in well. Add a small amount of water and work until dye residue is loosened. Wash off thoroughly with soap, water and dry your hands. Repeat as necessary.

OH&S 18: Hot Is Not The Spot.
Waxes pose a specific set of safety concerns. Read guidelines below before using hot waxes in batik operations.
* Always use proper ventilation in your work area. Create a local exhaust system by putting a portable fan in your area in order to disperse the air.
* Heated wax releases irritating chemicals including acrolein and aldehydes. There is no approved MSHA/NIOSH filter for acrolein. A respirator is not a substitute for excellent ventilation.
* Heat wax to the lowest temperature at which it remains liquid.
* Hot wax is a fire hazard. Do not leave it unattended.
* Wax forms potentially hazardous vapors at high temperatures and so may ignite.
* Do not use open flames, such as a gas or propane burner, to heat wax. Instead use a crock-pot or electric fry pan with a temperature control.

OH&S 19: Flames Are Not The Game.
All organic solvents, except highly halogenated ones are flammable. As any solvent fire must start in an air/vapor mixture, the more volatile solvents are more readily ignited. The flash point is the lowest temperature at which a flame above the solvent will cause the solvent's vapor to ignite. Obviously, the lower the flash point the more readily the solvent's vapor will ignite at room temperature. In general those solvents with a flash point below 21oC are considered the most dangerous, while any solvents with a flash point below 32oC are still considered dangerously flammable. For example, methanol and ethanol have flash points of 11oC and 12oC, respectively. On the other hand butanol has a flash point of 36oC.

Hazard Signs Used In The European Union.
Courtesy reference[3].

Any large containers of solvent, say over 1 litre, should be housed in closed steel cabinets, that should be constructed in such a manner to prevent leakage of solvent or its vapor even if the solvent container leaks. When used, they should only be used in well ventilated areas.

Only small containers of solvent, say less than 500 ml, should be kept on open shelves, well away from sources of heat or direct sunlight. Remember that the vapors of solvents are heavier than air and so can flow into ducting vents or along bench tops well away from where the containers are kept. Decanting large volumes of solvents may generate static electricity and so increases the possibility of a spark and so ignition of the solvent's vapor. Whenever more than 5 litres of a solvent is likely to be stored and/or transferred, seek expert advice.

OH&S 20: Toxicity Is Multiplicity.
All solvents have some toxicity. For example, if you drink to much water too quickly the saline concentration in your blood will become too low and you can die from a toxic shock. Hence if too much water can kill, too much of most solvents will do the same.

Liquid solvents can be absorbed through your skin, can dissolve protective chemicals from the skin (allowing infection to occur), and can cause irritation to sensitive membranes, especially your eyes. These dangers can be mitigated by taking common sense precautions and by wearing protective clothing. Perhaps, the most insidious damage is caused by breathing solvent vapors over extended periods of time - damage may be less noticeable as time progresses due to the receptors in your nose that picks up the odor are progressively damaged.

There are two different types of vapor toxicity that may occur with the same solvent, namely: (i) a narcotic effects (e.g. drunkenness or poisoning) which may wear off as the solvent is removed from your body (e.g. ethanol); (ii) long term effects which persist even though the solvent has been eliminated from your body (e.g. methanol). With more extensive research undertaken on solvent usage it has been found that chronic effects are much more prevalent than was previously thought.

The relative danger of different solvents is measured by the Threshold Limit Values (TLV), or Occupational Exposure Limits (OEL). These are concentrations measured in parts per million (ppm or mg m-3) by volume of air that can be tolerated by the average user without undue risk. Two values are commonly listed: one for exposure during the whole working week namely TVL-TWA (Threshold Limit Value - Time Weighted Average); and the other for short term exposure, up to 15 minutes, TVL-STEL (Threshold Limit Value - Short Term Exposure Limit).

Any solvent with a TVL less than 200 ppm should be avoided or treated with considerable caution. For example, the TVL of gasoline is ca. 300 ppm. Gasoline sniffing has serious long term effects. Suppliers of chemicals are required by law in Australia to provide Material Safety Data Sheets in order to provide information on the toxicity of any products they supply.

Individuals can vary in their sensitives to chemicals. When one is sensitised irritation can occur at much lower concentrations than the average. To counter the possible dangers, periodic checks on the atmosphere of the studio air the artist breathes should be undertaken. There are now relatively cheap instrumentation that are on the market which indicate the amount of solvent vapor in the atmosphere. The anaesthetic effect of many solvents may ensure a happy ignorance of an increasing danger.

Hazard Signs Used In The European Union.
Courtesy reference[3].

[1] Fibers Studio Handbook, School Of Art And Design, University Of Michigan, USA (2010).

[2] Ed. G.D. Muir, Hazards In The Chemical Laboratory, The Chemical Society, London (1977).

[3] C.V. Horie, Materials For Conservation, Butterworths, Sydney (1987).

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