A person wearing a respirator mask and gloves, experiencing discomfort while working with resin in a workshop.

Introduction to Resin Safety


Resin is a versatile material used in various industries, from arts and crafts to construction and manufacturing. Its ability to harden into a durable, plastic-like substance makes it invaluable for creating strong, lasting products. However, working with resin comes with its own set of challenges and risks. This article provides a comprehensive introduction to resin safety, ensuring that both beginners and experienced users can handle this material responsibly and safely.

Understanding Resin

Resin is a synthetic material that starts as a liquid and hardens into a solid when mixed with a hardener or catalyst. There are several types of resin, each with specific properties and uses:

  • Epoxy Resin: Known for its strong adhesive qualities and resistance to chemicals, it’s widely used in coatings, adhesives, and composite materials. To learn more about using epoxy resin for creative projects, check out our guide on Creating A Marble Effect With Epoxy Resin.
  • Polyester Resin: Commonly used in fiberglass construction, boat building, and automotive repairs due to its affordability and ease of use.
  • Polyurethane Resin: Offers flexibility and toughness, making it ideal for applications like casting, coatings, and elastomers.

Each type of resin has its unique handling and safety precautions. Be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully for specific guidance.

Global Resin Market Growth (2010-2020)

Line graph showing the global market growth of epoxy resin, polyester resin, and polyurethane resin from 2010 to 2020.
Global Resin Market Growth (2010-2020): The market size for epoxy, polyester, and polyurethane resins has steadily increased over the past decade. Data source: Industry market analysis reports.

Health Risks Associated with Resin

A green liquid labeled as poison in a glass bottle with a cork, emitting smoke in a dark setting.
A bottle containing a green toxic liquid with a poison label, highlighting the importance of handling hazardous substances with care.

While resin is incredibly useful, it poses several health risks if not handled properly:

  • Skin Irritation: Direct contact with resin can cause dermatitis, characterized by redness, itching, and swelling.(Source: California Department of Public Health​ (CDPH_CA_GOV)​)
Pie chart showing the incidence of dermatitis among resin users, with segments for no reaction (88%), contact dermatitis (10%), and allergic dermatitis (2%).
Incidence of Dermatitis Among Resin Users: The majority of users (88%) do not experience any reaction, while 10% develop contact dermatitis and 2% develop allergic dermatitis. Data source: California Department of Public Health and WEST SYSTEM Epoxy​ (CDPH_CA_GOV)​​ (West System)​.
  • Respiratory Issues: Inhaling resin fumes can lead to respiratory problems, including throat irritation, coughing, and shortness of breath. Prolonged exposure may cause chronic respiratory conditions.(Source: WEST SYSTEM Epoxy​ (West System)​)
  • Long-term Health Effects: Continuous exposure to resin without proper safety measures can result in more severe health issues, such as asthma, sensitization, and even neurological damage.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Person in a workshop wearing full-face respirator, safety goggles, lab coat, nitrile gloves, protective sleeves, and shoe covers.
Proper PPE for safe handling of resin includes a full-face respirator, safety goggles, lab coat, nitrile gloves, protective sleeves, and shoe covers.

To minimize health risks, it’s crucial to use the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE):

  • Gloves: Nitrile gloves are recommended as they provide a good barrier against chemicals found in resin.
  • Masks: Respirators with organic vapor cartridges should be used to protect against inhaling fumes.
  • Goggles: Safety goggles prevent resin from splashing into the eyes.
  • Protective Clothing: Long sleeves and aprons can protect the skin from spills and splashes.

Safe Handling Procedures

Person in a workshop wearing full PPE, including a respirator mask, goggles, lab coat, nitrile gloves, and shoe covers, safely handling resin with a mixing container and stirring stick.
Ensuring safety while handling resin involves wearing full PPE and maintaining a clean, organized workspace with proper ventilation and safety equipment.

Proper handling procedures are essential for working safely with resin:

  • Mixing and Applying Resin: Always mix resin and hardener according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Use measuring cups and stir sticks designed for resin use to ensure accurate mixing ratios. For those new to resin projects, explore our Let’s Resin Coaster Kit for a beginner-friendly experience.
  • Ventilation: Work in a well-ventilated area to disperse fumes. If working indoors, use exhaust fans, air purifiers, or open windows, or consider working in a fume hood.
  • Workspace Setup: Cover work surfaces with disposable or easy-to-clean materials. Keep the area organized to prevent accidents.
  • Following Instructions: Adhere strictly to the manufacturer’s guidelines for use and safety precautions.

Signs of Overexposure

Person sitting at a workbench rubbing their eyes, surrounded by resin supplies and tools.
A person experiences discomfort from improper resin handling, emphasizing the importance of proper PPE and safety measures.

Recognizing signs of overexposure to resin can help prevent serious health issues:

  • Skin: Redness, itching, swelling, or rash.
  • Respiratory: Throat irritation, coughing, difficulty breathing, or dizziness.
  • Long-term: Chronic respiratory issues, persistent skin problems, or neurological symptoms.

Training and Education

A man and woman examining resin samples in a workshop, discussing various options from a display shelf.
Two individuals carefully selecting resin samples from a display shelf, highlighting the importance of choosing the right materials for their project.

For those new to working with resin, consider taking online courses, attending workshops, or getting certifications to learn safe handling practices.

Labeling and Documentation

Person in a workshop wearing safety goggles, lab coat, and nitrile gloves, labeling resin bottles at an organized workspace.
Ensuring proper labeling of resin products is crucial for safety and organization in a workshop or laboratory setting.

Always label resin containers clearly and keep safety data sheets (SDS) for all resin products. This helps in case of emergencies and ensures everyone knows what they’re working with.

Waste Management

Proper waste management is crucial:

  • Storage: Store resin in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and sources of heat. Ensure containers are tightly sealed to prevent leaks and contamination.
  • Disposal: Dispose of resin waste according to local hazardous waste regulations. Never pour resin down the drain or into the environment.
  • Recycling: Look for recycling options for resin containers and tools. Consider using eco-friendly and bio-based resins whenever possible.

Fire Safety

A workshop with resin containers stored safely, fire extinguishers, and fire safety signs visible, emphasizing the importance of fire safety.
Proper storage and fire safety measures are essential when handling flammable resins. Ensure resin containers are away from ignition sources and have fire extinguishers and a fire safety plan in place.

Some resins are flammable. Store resin away from ignition sources and have appropriate fire extinguishers nearby. Be aware of fire hazards and have a fire safety plan in place.

Regular Safety Audits

Conduct regular safety audits of your workspace to ensure compliance with safety protocols and identify any potential hazards. This proactive approach can prevent accidents and ensure a safe working environment.

Health Incidents in Compliant vs Non-Compliant Workplaces

Bar chart comparing the number of health incidents in compliant workplaces (50) versus non-compliant workplaces (200).
Health Incidents in Compliant vs Non-Compliant Workplaces: Compliant workplaces report significantly fewer health incidents (50) compared to non-compliant workplaces (200). Data source: Occupational health and safety compliance studies.

Legal Exposure Limits

California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) sets and enforces workplace chemical exposure limits. Cal/OSHA has adopted Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) for the amounts of some, but not all, of the epoxy resin system chemicals that may be in the air you breathe.

Legally, your exposure may be above the PEL value at times, but only if it is below the PEL value at other times, so that your average exposure for any 8-hour workshift is not greater than the PEL for that chemical. See the graph below for details.

If you work with epoxy resin systems and think you may be overexposed, talk to your supervisor and/or your union. If any worker might be exposed to a substance at more than the legal exposure limit, the employer must measure the amount of the chemical in the air in the work area (Cal/OSHA regulation GISO 5155). You have the right to see the results of such monitoring relevant to your work (GISO 3204).

Bar chart showing the Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) for various chemicals found in epoxy resin systems, measured in parts per million (ppm).
Data Source: California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA)

Community Resources

Join local or online communities and forums where users share experiences and advice on resin safety. These platforms can provide valuable insights and support.

Emergency Procedures

Accidents can happen, even with the best precautions. Knowing how to respond is crucial:

  • First Aid for Resin Exposure: If resin comes into contact with skin, wash immediately with soap and water. In case of eye exposure, rinse thoroughly with water for at least 15 minutes and seek medical attention.
  • Handling Spills: Clean up spills immediately using absorbent materials. Dispose of the waste according to local regulations.
  • Accidental Ingestion: If resin is ingested, do not induce vomiting. Seek medical help immediately and provide the medical team with information about the specific resin involved.
  • Emergency Contacts: Keep contact information for local poison control centers and emergency services readily available.

Environmental Considerations

Bar charts showing the carbon footprint and pollution levels of traditional resin compared to bio-based resin.
Environmental Impact of Resin Types: Traditional resins have higher carbon footprints and pollution levels compared to bio-based resins. Data source: Environmental impact studies.

The environmental impact of resin is significant, but there are ways to mitigate it:

  • Impact on the Environment: Resin production and disposal can contribute to pollution and harm wildlife. Improper disposal can contaminate soil and water sources.
  • Sustainable Practices: Use resin products that are eco-friendly and designed to have a lower environmental impact. Recycle and reuse resin containers and tools when possible. Consider using bio-based resins, which are derived from renewable sources.


Resin is a valuable material with a wide range of applications, but it must be handled with care to ensure safety. By understanding the health risks, using proper PPE, following safe handling procedures, and being prepared for emergencies, you can work with resin effectively while minimizing potential hazards. Always prioritize safety and environmental responsibility in all your resin projects.

By adhering to these guidelines, you not only protect yourself and those around you but also contribute to a safer and more sustainable use of resin in various industries.

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