A lot of hand sanitiser contains alcohol. This needs to be registered in safety systems as a risk to health. We are liberally applying this to our hands. Even after it feels like it has evaporated it is a risk.
Any source of ignition and this could be a spark from static electricity. It will burn with an invisible flame. People need to be well away from any source of ignition until they are confident it has evaporated.
We went to using a product called Zoono which tests have shown is 99.999% efficient in killing COVID 19 and bacteria.
"Read it on the Internet so it must be true
" Bullshitometer is screaming about 100%
7.6 billion people in the world. Many using hand sanitiser many times a day and there have been ZERO verifiable cases reported of fire.
For are those that have missed the news zero active Covid cases in the South Island and 1 active case in NZ.
Time for us to move on.
oh dear........ is all i can say, slapping my forehead
Is it a hazard? Is there a potential risk to health? Should the ignition sources be considered?
Most hand sanitisers contain ethanol in concentrations > 60% (usually around 70-80%) which is classified as highly flammable (3.1B) under the hazardous substances legislation. It would be best to refer to the safety data sheet for specific advice on storage and use and for managing the risks. Even for small containers, there is a legal separation distance from ignition sources that must been maintained (not < 30cm for quantities less than 10 litres if I recall correctly), for flammable liquids of class 3.1A and B.
In the healthcare setting, there have been some rare examples of staff and patients causing ignition through static spark while using ethanol based hand sanitisers and before the ethanol has evapourated. See attached fire incident report from a hospital in Oregon, US. This is probably an extreme example as the patient had been playing with the hand sanitizer prior to the vapours igniting, but it makes for interesting reading non-the-less.
There is the following example of a healthcare worker suffering burns after ignition from static discharge but I have not as yet been able to find a credible incident or research report.
Also the most recent newsletter from Responsible Care NZ also contains an example of an incident at a local transport company involving ignition of hand sanitizer that was ignited by static discharge before the ethanol had evapourated from the employees hands. The lesson here is to ensure that the hand sanitizer has been allowed to fully evapourate and that hands are clean and dry before commencing other tasks.
OHSU Feb 02 Report Final - Ethanol hand gel fire
And yet, when testing was carried out, the FAA took a couple of seconds to get it burning.
I know from experience that you can have it burning on your hands and not get burnt. the alcohol evaporates at such a low temp that the flame is far enough away from your skin that it doesn't burn. (an old party trick)
I had a look at that Incident Report. We shouldn't loose sight of "the girls shirt which
had been saturated
with a mixture of olive oil and ethyl alcohol based hand sanitizer"
I just wonder if there aren't at least a few workplaces that are now non-compliance with the Hazardous Substances regulation after purchasing a decent amount of 3.1B hand sanitiser and now should actually have a Location Compliance Certificate (and associated controls) for the storeroom where it is kept...
Hand sanitizer is only needed when a person can't access hand-washing facilities. You can minimise the risks and save money as well by promoting effective hand-washing and hygiene processes.
You need to check composition and claims of any non-alcohol hand sanitizers. Many are effective at killing bacteria but not verified as destroying viruses. We also looked more closely at a hand sanitizer being promoted as killing 99% of all germs and viruses and discovered the active ingredient was a substance used to sanitize hard surfaces, and which carried warnings about being a skin irritant!
So as in all things, conduct appropriate due diligence.
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