Chemical safety refers to policies and procedures implemented to minimize the risks of handling chemicals improperly, as well as to controls and practices that protect both the environment as well as communities around where these chemicals are being utilized.
Chemicals in the workplace can be highly hazardous when not stored and handled correctly, and failing to use best practices such as the Hierarchy of Controls could make things even worse. Employing these best practices will help avoid accidents that could cause injury or illness or cause property or environmental damage.
Physical hazards associated with chemicals include their flammability and reactivity. Flammability can be determined using flashpoint, auto ignition temperature and flammable limits outlined on its Safety Data Sheet; while reactivity is determined by pH value, molecular weight and vapor pressure as well as reactions with water, air or other substances; this information may be listed either on an SDS or container label.
Health hazards of chemicals may be experienced through inhalation, skin or eye contact, ingestion and injection. Some effects may be immediate while others can take months or years to appear. Breathing harmful chemicals could result in irritation, corrosion, burns or scarring to lungs, stomach, liver and kidneys while chronic exposure may lead to cancer, mesothelioma, emphysema or other respiratory diseases that are potentially deadly; even some effects could even prove fatal immediately.
Immediately upon discovering a chemical spill, it is critical that it be cleaned up promptly. Any liquid must be transferred away from its initial site into secondary containers that have been clearly marked, labeled with chemical information from SDS sheets as well as emergency response and first aid procedures.
Employees who are educated about the chemicals they work with feel more protected and confident about using these chemicals safely and responsibly. In addition, they will understand emergency response plans and know what steps need to be taken if an alarm goes off; for instance if it detects an explosion or fire alarm they’ll understand what actions must be taken such as turning off machinery or leaving the building immediately.
Minimizing chemical injuries will save your company both money on medical costs and productivity costs, including hiring and training a replacement worker as well as replacing lost productivity with productivity gained. By following proper procedures and adhering to applicable policies and regulations, HR will also help ensure all employees follow appropriate steps, reduce environmental impact and increase morale for a happier, healthier workplace.
This will lead to more efficient and profitable businesses. To mitigate risks when working with chemicals, education and awareness can help mitigate them effectively, followed by appropriate handling and procedures, implementation of controls, employee PPE provision and PPE use by staff – this will greatly decrease accidents or injuries occurring from chemical usage.