Diisocyanates regulations in 2023: how do they affect you?

If you work in carpentry, then your professional life would’ve changed overnight on August 24, 2023, because of a new regulation.

As of that date, the laws around using diisocyanates changed and we’ve heard from a few of you that you aren’t entirely sure where you now stand.

For those unaware, diisocyantes are used to make polyurethanes. They can be found in sealants, adhesives and foams, amongst other things.

They are dangerous for humans and can cause irritation on the skin and in the eyes. More serious side effects include having occupational asthma.

To help confusion, we have put this article together for you to tell you all you need to know and to save you a headache. That being said, you can read the whole regulation here.

Come the end of it, you’ll know exactly what’s happened, how it affects you and what your next steps are moving forward.

What are the regulations?

On January 1, 2021, it was announced that the EU REACH regulation would be brought into effect in the UK. In short, EU REACH is a regulation of the European Union.

It seeks “to improve the protection of human health and the environment from the risks that can be posed by chemicals,” as per its website.

Given the harm diisocyanates can cause humans, since 2008, EU regulations have classified them as a category one skin sensitiser and respiratory sensitiser.

As per the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), this means that diisocyanates “may cause an allergic skin reaction.” In addition, they also “may cause allergy or asthma symptoms or breathing difficulties if inhaled.”

You may also be wondering how the UK can be governed by an EU law post-Brexit, but that is because EU REACH falls under the retained EU legislation list.

Polyurethanes are quite commonplace within the carpentry world, so having the regulation set in stone is a big deal.

So are diisocyanates banned as of now, then?

No, not at all. What is new though, is that unless you are using diisocyanates in an extremely small concentration, you will need training.

By extremely small concentration, we mean products with a total diisocyante concentration of less than 0.1%. 

However, products with less than 0.1% are extremely rare. Even a normal 750ml tube of Fire and Acoustic Seals’ Fire Door Foam has more than 0.1%, for context.

This is stated in the new regulation; “As from 24 August 2023, adequate training is required before industrial or professional use.”

The training courses aren’t particularly long, with the ones most applicable ranging from 30-40 minutes in length.

In addition, your training certificate will need to be renewed every five years. You can do all the training online though, which is useful. It will cost you €5, but can be free - we explain where, when and how below. 

Where can I get the training?

A new website from Safe Use of Diisocyantes has gone live, for the purpose of training. This gives you the choice of either doing self-learning or registering for sessions with a trainer. The link for the Safe Use of Diisocyantes website is here.

If you choose to do the self-learning, this costs €5 (about £4.29) per user or certificate. However, you can also get the training for free.

The Association of the European Adhesive and Sealant Industry, otherwise known as FEICA, is offering a code that’ll remove the €5 cost. You can access that code here.

The discount code only covers certain parts, but it covers everything you need to work in the construction industry. It covers:

  • One-component PU foams (048)
  • Joint sealants (048)
  • Flooring adhesives and coatings (049, includes 048)
  • Crack injection resins (050, includes 048)
  • Plumbing (048)
  • Carpentry (048)

Realistically, it’ll be course 048 that you’ll need to do, as it covers carpentry, one-component PU foams and joint sealants.

If you need to do flooring adhesives (049) or coatings or crack injection resins (050), both include 048 as well.

More information can be found on the link with the code, including a designated email address for questions about the training.

Clearing up the confusion around the new regulations

New regulations happen all the time and while there is the initial stage of confusion, once you get your head around them, everything becomes easier.

Hopefully after reading this article, you’ll know what the new regs are and how to get the training you’ll need to move forwards.

Thankfully, the training courses are quite short and can be booked for free thanks to FEICA, so they won’t be too much of an inconvenience for you.

If you have any further questions about the regulations, we will gladly try and help as best as we can. You can find out how to contact us here.