New legislation on the use of polyurethanes

Following a review by the European Parliament, the REACH Restriction on aliphatic and aromatic diisocyanates (HDI, MDI, TDI, etc.) was published on August 4th, 2020 and became effective on August 24th 2020. The restriction aims to minimise the adverse health effects induced by exposure to diisocyanates at the workplace (respiratory sensitisation, occupational asthma) and along the entire supply chain.

Polyurethane products are made by reacting diisocyanates and polyols

Training requirements

Your staff will need to be trained and certified by August 24 2023 in how to handle diisocyanates safely. This applies to all professional and industrial users of products with a total monomeric diisocyanate concetration of >0.1%. Employers are required and have a responsibility to provide adequate training for all employees who come into contact with a substance containing diisocyanates. Employers are also required to collect evidence of the successful completion of training programs by each employee i.e certificates. Training certificates last five years, after which time they need to be renewed.

Training programs are available online, either free or at low cost. 

Are diisocyanates safe?

Like any chemical or substance, diisocyanates are safe when they are handled according to the relevant risk management and health & safety measures. Diisocyanates are only used as reactive chemicals – they react with the polyol to form the polyurethane product, and are used up during the reaction. Virtually no diisocyanates can be found in completed or cured materials. 

Can I get away without training?

There are new, leading edge polyurethane adhesives based on micro emission technology. The concentration of monomeric diisocyanates is less than 0.1% by weight, so training is not required if you specify those products.