Updated: Dec 12, 2019
I really want to get a message out today to shrink wrappers, both new an old, or indeed any scaffold firms that may do their own in house shrink wrap applications that even though have gained their basic training, were definitely not taught the ins and outs of shrink wrap health and safety.
It's time for all shrink wrap companies and installers to really take eye safety seriously. I know that nearly everyone's RAMS will state specifically that eye protection must be worn on site, but in reality this can sometimes be somewhat site specific or more of a choice by operatives.
Just yesterday I experienced for probably the 6th time in my 11 years shrink wrapping, what I'd refer to as burning droplets that ignite and fire out from the shrink wrap. This molten plastic literally sticks to your skin and burns almost like sugar, even when you wipe it off it leaves hot plastic residue that will eventually scar. I have several small pea size scars on my arms from such occasions over the years and every time I have thought 'Wow, lucky that didn't hit me in the eye!'
Make no mistake, I am positive it would most likely burn through your eye ball and cause significant damage, possibly loss of sight or worse...complete blindness.
Now, this is an extremely rare occurrence and usually only happens when there are multiple layers of sheets and you really have to put a lot of heat in to make sure its welded properly. It also seems to happen most when there are several layers of tape or perhaps the sheet is really dirty or wet; it seems combination of the elements that build up and react with the properties within the wrap itself. Sometimes though, It seems completely random!
Whatever causes it though, it is only a matter of time or bad luck before one of these burning droplets hits someone in the eye. My partner was born with sight in only one of her eyes. I think how devastated we would both be if she were to lose this and be completely blind in both eyes... then I think how stupid and blasé I am being when I'm not wearing my glasses on site. I can't speak for everyone, but I think losing an eye in an accident is one of the worst events that can happen on a construction site and life in general.
Once again I implore everyone in the shrink wrap game to seriously think about your eyes next time you're welding or shrinking and not wearing safety glasses, it really is not unforeseeable for this to happen to any one of us!