A number of different types of processes are used in the printing industry, with each process using a range of hazardous substances depending on the operation involved.

The hazardous substances most often used in a printing plant will be inks and organic cleaning solvents. Pre-press operations typically involve photo-processing substances. Post-press operations can use large amounts of adhesives and this is the case where books or directories are involved.

Printing firms will store and handle a range of chemicals, many of which are hazardous, some may be flammable, others are toxic or corrosive. The substances may present health risks to workers, particularly if they become airborne or are in contact with the skin. Some of the more serious health risks include cancer and sensitisation of both the airways (eg asthma) and the skin (eg dermatitis). Careful management of these is important to protect people and the environment.  A worker in the printing industry may use and handle:

  • solvents such as acetone, white spirit, ethyl acetate, toluene
  • adhesives, many of which may contain isocyanates as well as solvents
  • inks and coatings which may contain chromates/chromic acids, which are known or presumed human carcinogens.

Controls on chemicals

To find out what the controls are on the chemical(s) you are using, search the Approved hazardous substances with controls(external link) database and download the substance controls document.

There are a number of key controls that need to be followed to help you comply with the hazardous substances legislation. Use the hazardous substances calculator(external link) to find out about these.

Compliance certification requirements

Depending on the type and quantity of chemicals held at your site, you may require one or more of the following compliance certificates:

If you are unsure about your compliance certification requirements, contact a compliance certifier for advice.

Find a compliance certifier(external link)

As a general rule, you should keep the quantities of hazardous substances stored on your site to a minimum. In this way the risks may be reduced and the need for compliance certification reduced.