While working with spray foam, there are always potential risks and hazards than can occur unexpectedly. Therefore, it is important for SPF workers to be prepared for every step before, during, and after a spray foam application. To facilitate this process and comply with the job requirements, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers checklists that contractors should utilize on the job. While these checklists are not regulatory compliance tools, they might be required under local, state, or federal worker protection or other regulations.
Contractor Safe Work Practices
In an ongoing fashion, EPA suggests that contractors should maintain an on-site contractor’s safety plan that meets all OSHA, local, and state requirements, as well as an on-site binder of Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) that the workers should familiarize themselves with. Contractors should also keep records of everything from material names to equipment maintenance to ensure quality work in the future. EPA also stresses the importance for SPF project managers, installers, and assistants to acquire testing training certification from organizations such as SPFA or CPI. Being certified indicates that the employee has been thoroughly educated on the proper application of SPF.
Before moving forward with an SPF job, project managers should conduct a pre-job assessment that identifies health and safety risks, environmental conditions, and a safe work zone. Project managers also need to ensure that all crewmembers are wearing PPE to avoid exposure to chemicals, and verify whether a supplied air system is required for the job. Crewmembers should make sure see everyone else has vacated the area, that HVAC systems are turned off or isolated, and that all openings are covered with plastic sheeting to mitigate overspray. Crews should check to see if their equipment is heated up to the required temperature and conduct a test spray to check foam quality and make any adjustments before carrying on.
While spraying, SPF installers should always work with an assistant and maintain a line of sight or direct communication with the assistant. Installers should apply the SPF in lifts, allowing enough cooling time per pass while following the manufacturer’s instructions and foam depth specifications. The crew should have a ventilation system in place during and after the application and ensure that the ventilation exhaust areas are clear of people and objects that could be contaminated.
After the installation is completed, the crew needs to clean up the area, dispose of any waste, remove all the masking, and restore HVAC settings. The contractor can then establish a proper re-entry time for other trade workers, residents, or building occupants.
Checking off these crucial steps ensures that the SPF application is done correctly and any potential risks therein are significantly reduced.
As important as safety is in the SPF workplace, the communication between client and a professional SPF contractor is also paramount in preserving SPF’s reputation as an optimal insulation material. Therefore, EPA created an additional checklist that enables the contractor and the client to see eye to eye.
For the client and the contractor to be on the same page, the contractor should provide certification credentials, followed by an overview of the work that will be performed. The client should be informed of SPF’s safety risks and the precautions the contractor takes to avoid those risks. The client needs to understand that the work area will be restricted to other workers and building occupants; that the area will be ventilated during the application; that the crewmen will be wearing correct kind of PPE that his crewmen will wear to ensure safety, and if any environmental conditions need to be taken into account for a proper SPF application.
Before the client leaves the site, client the contractor should determine an area for the workers to change in and out of their PPE. Additionally, the client should grant access to bathrooms near the work area, if available.
If the contractor’s communication with the client is successful, then the client will know what to expect and, in turn, feel more secure in his decision of choosing spray polyurethane foam insulation.
For more information, please visit www.epa.gov