Scaled Management Systems

Vinyl glue fumes

Vinyl adhesive fumes captured by downdraft extraction table


Workers in an upholstery shop used solvent-based adhesives in the manufacture and repair of vinyl covered seats. Fumes were identified as being generated firstly form the adhesive, and secondly from the reaction of the adhesive with the vinyl. The fumes gave headaches to the upholstery workers and caused an unpleasant smell for all other workers in the workshop. There was also a potential fire hazard.


The workshop was being re-fitted and a ‘Workshop Strategy Committee’ was established to ensure that occupational health and safety concerns were addressed during the re-fitting process. The Committee was made up of engineers, health and safety representatives and management representatives.

As a result of this process, substitute adhesives, less hazardous and less odorous, were trialled. Unfortunately, none of the substitutes were as effective as the original on the wide range of materials used. It was therefore decided to build a new table and incorporate a ‘down-draft’ fume extraction system in it. Fresh air is now drawn across the work surface away from the operator and is captured, along with any fumes, in an enclosure in the table’s surface. The contaminated air is pulled through charcoal filters and is ducted, now much cleaner towards an exhaust fan in the roof. The workshop has a large open-plan layout and the filters are maintained regularly.

Hierarchy of Controls:




  • A much healthier workplace was created for upholstery workers and other workshop personnel.
  • The new downdraft extraction unit Is quiet causing no noise.
  • Exposure to dangerous fumes and a potential fire hazard were both minimised due to the foresight and collective action of the committee members.