The choice of products used in construction can make the difference of putting a job site in a hazardous condition or enhancing that site’s safety. That is important because safeguarding a construction site should be a top priority. By specifying that plastic products used in the construction process have been enhanced to reduce hazards could also prevent other expensive, and potentially deadly problems.
Mandates for Change
According to the U.S Fire Administration, an estimated 4,800 construction site fires cause $35 million in property losses each year. That is just for job site incidents involving fire. Using plastic products that have been infused with a flame retardant might have reduced that number of fires.
Products are now being developed with plastic that has been treated to reduce static friction. That can help to avoid causing dangerous sparks that act to ignite fires.
Scientists today are also working to formulate plastic products without the use of hazardous chemicals. The result of all of this research and development is to create a wide variety of materials to improve the construction process.
By preventing fires from starting, or limiting the ability to spread, flame-retardants create a better working and living environment. However, a common component in early flame-retardants was decabromodiphenyl ether. Tests conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency revealed that this component was toxic. In fact, it was as harmful to humans and their environment as the fires it was used to prevent. The EPA ordered it removed from all flame-retardants and imposed a 2012 deadline to eliminate decabromodiphenyl ether in all plastic products.
New challenges arose because that chemical component had been used extensively to make construction materials, such as electrical conduit, housewrap, switch boxes, and even carpet. These products were essential to the construction process and replacement products were needed. Plastics industry leaders have seized the opportunity to develop alternatives.
Developed and Tested
Plastic enhancers are being developed for use in all types of construction products. Debris netting for vertical and perimeter applications and worker safety nets are vital tools. Netting made with a flame retardant additive helps reduce the risk of ignition, which improves worker protection and reduces the chances for additional damages to occur. Plastic enhancement can also be used to improve plumbing pipes, exterior siding, and so many other construction-related products.
Developing plastic materials with an eco-friendly fire retardant is just one form of plastic enhancement. Custom formulas are also being developed for construction products, including those manufactured using injection molding, extrusion and blow molding.