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Hot melt adhesives are extremely versatile, used for everything from building and sealing packaging to assembling products. They’re not without their risks, however, namely safety to the operator.

Not being vigilant while using hot melt adhesives can result in serious burns. Staying safe while using hot melt adhesives is largely a matter of following common sense and a few best practices as outlined by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

 Read the instructions

Reading the instructions for hot melt adhesive equipment is always a smart idea. The operator’s manual not only tells the best way to set up and maintain the equipment, but also outlines safety best practices. Spending the time to become familiar with the information in the operator’s manual is an investment in safety.

 Check equipment before starting

Just as a pilot performs a preflight inspection of his plane before leaving the ground, it’s a good idea for hot melt operators to visually inspect their equipment for signs of damage or disrepair prior to starting an adhesive task. Be sure to check the hot melt handgun for cracks or other signs of damage. Ensure that adhesive hoses don’t have holes or obvious tears, and check to make sure that electrical wires are intact. Performing an equipment check before starting hot melt adhesive work will help prevent accidents due to faulty machinery.

 Pay close attention

Many accidents involving hot melt adhesive happen simply because the operator shifted his/her focus away from the gluing task. It only takes a moment of distraction to lead to a hot melt disaster. Continued safety relies on the ability to concentrate on the gluing task. If the operator needs to have a conversation with a coworker or feels his attention is slipping and needs a moment to refocus on his work, he should put the hot melt gun into its safety stand, and then return to the task. When the hot melt gun is in the operator’s hand, he must be 100 percent focused on his work to decrease the chance of getting burned.

 Wear protective equipment

One of the best ways to stay safe while using hot melt equipment is by donning protective gear designed to reduce the risk of an accident. Every time hot melt adhesive equipment is used, employees should be wearing safety glasses or goggles to protect their eyes. Take advantage of leather gloves, or gloves made out of some other heat-resistant material, to help prevent burns to fingers and hands.

Safely using hot melt adhesive comes down to following a few straightforward tips. Be familiar with the equipment by reading the operator’s manual and pay special attention to safety information. Check equipment for damage prior to each use. Get in the habit of resting hot melt equipment in its safety stand when distracted or tired, and remember to wear safety glasses, gloves and any other protective equipment every time the machinery is used. By following these best practices, the risk of hot melt accidents or incidents is reduced.

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