Health & Safety

An absolute top priority for SPFA and the industry as a whole is a focus upon both chemical, and general worksite, health and safety. Sprayfoam is a high performing product capable of producing substantial energy savings through high R-Values combined with air-sealing in one product. There is a long list of secondary benefits readily available on this website and many others, but it is essential that the product be installed safely and properly to realize the best possible performance and ultimate customer satisfaction. Safety, along with attention to quality and detail, are what amount to a good SPF project.

In addition to the resources noted below, SPFA also supports our member based Safety Committee efforts to orient SPF professionals on issues related to their health and safety.  The Safety Committee offers members bi-monthly webinars addressing a variety of H & S topics in a straightforward and digestable format that accommodates contractors' busy schedules.  Recordings of those webinars are typically available in the Member Only Section of the website, and additional topics are covered regularly at the Sprayfoam Show Annual Conference and in the pages of Sprayfoam Professional Magazine.

This page offers some basic health and safety considerations, along with both SPFA and external resources.

SPFA Jobsite Safety Signs

SPFA offers two new safety signs for restricted access to worksites (No Entry and No Hot Work). These safety signs, produced by the SPFA Safety Committee in both English and Spanish, are downloadable here and also offered to the membership in the Members Only section of the website. These signs should be used on all worksites to aid in compliance with the OSHA NEP and Hazard Communication. The restricted access sign has a place on it to note the recommended re-entry time for building occupants or adjacent trades, typically twenty four (24) hours after completion of the SPF installation. CLICK IMAGE BELOW TO DOWNLOAD.

DNE Sign Image       Hot Sign Image

The OSHA National Emphasis Program (NEP)

One of the most notable recent events impacting the SPF industry is the National Emphasis Program (NEP) on Isocyanates, published by OSHA June 2013. This Directive was applicable to all industries utilizing Isocyanates, and in the case of SPF, specifically Methylene Diphenyl Diisocyanate, or MDI. MDI is an important building block to many polyurethane products, but in the case of SPF it is part of a sprayed mixture and must be handled properly during installation. Isocyanates, the “A” side of SPF materials, are a known-sensitizer and exposure may lead to workplace respiratory ailments. As a pro, it is your job to make sure your crews and your customers are safe. You need to know and understand the requirements for compliance that are upon you, as described by the NEP, that are being enforced today.

SPFA makes compliance easier for you by offering information through committees, email, webinars, our publication Sprayfoam Professional Magazine, our Professional Certification Program (PCP), and breakout session presentations at SPFA’s annual national convention and expo. Many of these safety-oriented presentations are available in the Past Conventions portion of this website.

The NEP coverage included companies of all sizes, including those with fewer than 10 employees. It heavily emphasized correct and knowledgeable use of Proper Protective Equipment (PPE), correct and effective use of engineered controls such as ventilation, the need for a contractor to have a Respiratory Protection Plan for employees, associated medical surveillance information and fit-testing records for employee respirators, proper worksite signage for authorized entry, SDS and other HAZCOM efforts, and a Jobsite Safety and Health Program. To prep for an OSHA inspection, these should be among the areas of concentration.

The OSHA Isocyanates NEP was concluded as of October 1, 2016.  While this NEP focused upon all users of isocyanates, which includes the SPF industry, SPF inspections under this enforcement performed well.  Top violations, stemming from 821 inspections (402 programmed/419 unprogrammed) across all isocyanate using industries included personal protective equipment (PPE), respiratory protection, and hazard communication.  

Summary report from OSHA offered the following observations of the enforcement program:

  • Raised the awareness for employers and workers to the adverse health effects from exposure to isocyanates.
  • Employers need to be aware of other Occupational Exposure Limits (OELs) as some of the isocyanates encountered do not have an OSHA PEL.
  • Regions or Area Offices may continue addressing isocyanates through regional or local emphasis programs (REPs/LEPs).

Supporting Documentation:

  • For a copy of the OSHA-delivered presentation on NEP from Sprayfoam Convention & Expo 2017, click HERE.
  • OSHA Construction Confined Spaces (MEMBERS ONLY) Click HERE.
  • SPFA Contractor’s Model Jobsite Safety and Health Plan. (MEMBERS ONLY) Click HERE.
  • SPFA Contractor’s 52-weekly ToolBox Talks (MEMBERS ONLY) Click HERE.
  • For a copy of OSHA’s Letter from Dr. Michaels to SPFA, click HERE.
  • For access to the OSHA Directive on Isocyanates, click HERE.
  • For guidance on developing a written respiratory protection plan, a NEP requirement, click HERE.
  • SPFA covers most of the safety and health considerations an SPF professional will encounter in its PCP certification, Assistant (entry) level. Click HERE to get certified.

If you are an SPFA member and are contacted about an OSHA NEP inspection, please contact SPFA Technical Services for answers to your questions.

SPF Health & Safety Resources

A commitment to health and safety extends beyond just chemical H+S, to include many aspects of general construction jobsite safety. Fall protection, general workplace safety measures, presence of eye-wash stations, and first-aid supplies are among the basics any field professional needs to employ.

  • Guidelines for Exterior High-Pressure SPF Insulation Applications Health and Safety Q & A, click HERE.
  • EPA SPF Contractor Checklist, click HERE.
  • For access to general OSHA construction compliance tips, click HERE.
  • For SPF Health and Safety Partner site, click HERE.

SPFA works closely with groups like the American Chemistry Council (ACC), Center for the Polyurethanes Industry (CPI), the Sprayfoam Coalition (SFC) and many other groups working in concert with the industry to deliver the best, most comprehensive, accessible and useful information on SPF health and safety. Click on any of the following links that best describe you to be taken to jointly-created health and safety materials on SPF:

SPFA Professional Certification Program (PCP)

The foundational building blocks of certification emphasizes chemical and job site health and safety. SPFA introductory (Assistant Level) certification focuses predominantly on chemical and worksite H&S topics for the contractor, and build upon those as the individual progresses through higher levels of certification. SPFA felt it was imperative to cover the health and safety topics at the entry-level, the level representing the most workers in the field. Safety is everyone’s job, from the hose-puller to the Project Manager. Spanish tests available from Assistant through Master Installer levels. Click here to learn more about PCP certification.

Center for the Polyurethanes Industry (CPI) Online SPF H+S Training

One of the prerequisites for SPFA PCP certification at the entry level is completion of the FREE online CPI Chemical Health and Safety Training module. This is an approximately two-hour online webinar taken at your own pace. There is an online test at the end, and upon successful completion you will be issued a certificate and wallet card with an ID number.

CPI, coordinating with SPFA and our members, produced this free on-line training module that all construction trades, homeowners, and spray foam professionals should complete.

For the CPI Free Chemical Health and Safety Training module, click HERE

Safety Data Sheets (SDS) – Formerly MSDS

One of the most important hazard communications (HAZCOM) mechanisms on any worksite is the Safety Data Sheet (SDS). According to OSHA The Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) (29 CFR 1910.1200(g)), revised in 2012, requires that the chemical manufacturer, distributor, or importer provide Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) (formerly MSDSs or Material Safety Data Sheets) for each hazardous chemical to downstream users to communicate information on these hazards. The information contained in the SDS is largely the same as the MSDS, except now the SDSs are required to be presented in a consistent user-friendly, 16-section format.

  • OSHA information on SDS available by clicking HERE.

The "A" side of a spray polyurethane system is commonly comprised of Methylene Diphenyl Diisocyanate (MDI) and polymeric Methylene Diphenyl Diisocyanate (pMDI). The "B" side is typically a blend of polyols, catalysts, blowing agent, flame retardant, and surfactant. Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) for both A and B side chemicals in a spray polyurethane system should be consulted before use to determine the components present on the worksite, their approximate percentages, and appropriate health, safety and environmental precautions to be taken.

SPFA believes that the path to a healthful, safe, high-quality and performing SPF installation travels through the hands of a knowledgeable, trained, experienced, and ideally PCP-certified professional contractor.