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Proper safety tips when working with chemicals

chemical safety tips infographic

Maintaining a safe and productive working environment is often challenging whatever the circumstances. When chemicals are involved, that challenge can be significantly increased. Without proper handling, many of the substances on which we rely can be dangerous. Whether they emit noxious fumes, burn skin, or are highly flammable, it’s crucial that precautions are taken at all times. Although procedures may change depending on the chemical in use or the quantity or concentration of the chemical, there are some steps that must be followed no matter what's in use.

A basic example would be ensuring good ventilation. This helps prevent vapours from reaching toxic concentrations in confined spaces. Facilities in which chemicals are regularly in use should be equipped with air filtration systems to get rid of these contaminants too.

Any employee whose job involves handling these chemicals should be provided with appropriate personal protective equipment — this could include items such as goggles, gloves, aprons and respirators. The equipment provided should be based on a detailed risk assessment and sourced from a reputable supplier to ensure it complies with the relevant Standards.

Employees need to be given suitable and sufficient training in safe techniques. As with personal protective equipment, training should be based on an assessment of risk and be specific to the site where people work and the chemicals in use. Employers must keep their facilities properly organised and have emergency plans prepared in order to manage emergencies that may arise. Labelling and storage processes need to be well managed and additional controls may be required, such as installing eyewash and shower stations. Management also needs to carry out regular inspections of all containers and other equipment which store and process hazardous materials. The key thing is to make sure a robust set of protocols is in place to ensure appropriate methods of handling substances, hopefully avoiding incidents or accidents.

Whenever potentially dangerous substances are in play, it is crucial to ensure people and assets are appropriately protected. Working with chemicals means treating them with respect and being fully aware of the risks they present (both when used correctly and what could happen if used incorrectly). See the accompanying infographic for these and other safety tips - it contains advice that might help prevent a significant accident from injuring your employees or causing them long-term health problems.

This post was contributed by EOC1.

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