Safe use of diisocyanates – coatings industry

Luca González Bringas Lovera. Asefapi Technology Department.

September 11, 2023

Diisocyanates are compounds with two isocyanate functional groups (-N=C=O). In addition, these are widely used in the field of coatings, mainly in coatings; they are also used to obtain polyurethanes and as adhesives. They were first used by the French and German chemists Wurtz and Hoffman in the 1840s, but it was not until a century later that polyurethanes were first synthesized by German chemist Otto Bayer. These are very reactive compounds that have been shown to have harmful effects on health.


These substances have industrial and professional uses, so special attention must be paid to worker health when handling these compounds. The major health effect of these substances is recognized as respiratory sensitizers capable of causing occupational asthma. Additionally, as an acute effect, the vapors they release may irritate various areas such as the eyes, nose, or throat. When we find this in high concentrations, it can cause chest tightness, bronchitis, and more serious problems like bronchospasm or pulmonary edema. It is also harmful when in contact with the skin as it is an sensitizer and can cause dermatitis.

From a prevention perspective, all these possible effects must be taken into account so that companies can ensure the health and safety of workers, which is why a few years ago Europe started studying the effects on worker health. And, although environmental exposure restrictions already exist, But awareness is beginning to grow about the possible health effects of these compounds.

In October 2016, Germany submitted a dossier to the European Chemicals Agency to initiate restriction procedures. Annex The high number of new cases of occupational diseases caused by diisocyanates each year (the number is estimated at more than 5,000 cases) is considered unacceptable, taking into account that the safe use of this substance can reduce the number of cases.


From 24 August 2023, appropriate training will be required for industrial or professional uses of diisocyanates.

To this end, Regulation No. 2020/1149 of 3 August 2020, amending Annex XVII to Regulation (EC) No. 1907/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning chemical substances and mixtures with respect to diisocyanates, was approved Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction (REACH).

The regulation obligates companies to train all workers who handle these substances so that they can do so safely. This limit is approved for industrial and professional use. The new legislation introduces three levels of training to address different types of exposure depending on the job performed. The first level is the basic level and is explained in a general way, the second level is the intermediate level and the last level is the most advanced and complete. Additionally, from February 2022, labels on products containing diisocyanates must contain the phrase: “As of August 24, 2023, appropriate training is required for industrial or professional use.”

It is important to note that these training courses come from Europe but must be adapted to the legislation of the individual member states and comply with prevention legislation. This is the case in Spain, where according to national prevention legislation these courses must be taught in accordance with Royal Decree 39/1997 approving the Regulation on Preventive Services.

The regulations stipulate that such training must be delivered by preventive services, so some self-study courses are not valid in terms of delivery but are valid in content. The National Association of Paint and Printing Ink Manufacturers (Asefapi) has started work to find solutions that take into account all these concerns in order to be able to comply with legislation at both European and national levels.

Such training has become mandatory from 24 August 2023, so it is recommended that all companies working in jobs where such compounds have to be handled have training (taking into account what level of training is more appropriate) to meet the requirements of each position required) to avoid possible sanctions from competent authorities.

It is not yet clear what these checks will look like, whether they will be carried out at the start of the restrictions or whether they will ask for the information and other documents necessary to comply with the law, but what is known is that due to the activities carried out through different associations, all Those affected by this new legislation will have access to the information they need to train and respond to this new challenge in the best possible way.


Special attention must be paid to worker health when handling these compounds.

In addition, all personnel affected by this restriction are encouraged to complete these trainings as soon as possible to avoid potential sanctions and, most importantly, ensure that workers who come into contact with and handle this substance do so safely so that they avoid and understand the possible effects of this substance Health risks, already mentioned above.

On the other hand, sellers must inform companies selling such products that persons who will receive these substances must receive specialized training in this area, just as they have completed relevant training..

The vapors released by diisocyanates can irritate various areas including the eyes, nose or throat.

Related companies or entities

Spanish Paint and Printing Ink Manufacturers Association

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