Chemicals have become a ubiquitous presence in modern life, whether as manufactured products or solutions and mixtures used in the workplace. While some chemicals are harmless, others pose serious health and safety risks to workers and the environment if misused; so adhering to all regulations regarding handling, storing and disposing of hazardous substances at work should be prioritized for every company that handles hazardous materials in its workplaces.
Employers must establish and implement an effective Chemical Hazard Communication Program that includes providing all employees with adequate training on handling, storing and disposing of chemicals responsibly as well as familiarizing themselves with each chemical’s requirements using Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) or product labels. Companies manufacturing or importing hazardous substances have additional responsibilities and obligations under their jurisdiction.
Chemical hazards can be divided into health and physical categories. Health hazards include carcinogens, mutagens, reproductive toxins and respiratory sensitizers and irritants; while physical hazards include being flammable, corrosive, pyrophoric self-heating explosive or otherwise explosive. Classifying hazards is a key part of an SDS system which provides a common platform for identifying and communicating chemical risks.
Workers exposed to chemicals may come into contact with them through inhalation, dermal contact or ingestion. While inhalation exposure can cause breathing difficulties and damage the lungs or brain, ingestion through skin contact could damage stomach, liver or kidneys or be absorbed into bloodstream leading to organ toxicity; chemical can also cause burns and irritation on skin eyes or nose causing organ toxicity as well as burns/irritation on skin, eyes or nose, as well as experience dermatitis after prolonged contact or an accidental spill of certain chemicals.
Alongside training, it is also wise to review the chemistry of any chemical prior to its use in order to minimize potential reactions that could cause fires or explosions when two chemicals interact, such as fires or explosions resulting from materials like metals or plastics coming in contact with one another or when in contact with certain types of materials such as metals or plastics. Assessing all personal protective equipment – goggles, lab gowns, rubber gloves, hazmat suits and respirators can all reduce potential accidental injuries while providing quick access to eyewash stations, drench showers or fire extinguishers can mitigate impact from chemical spills more efficiently than ever before.
Adopting and following safe work practices are the cornerstones of chemical accident protection. Companies that take necessary precautions can avoid both direct and indirect costs from chemical accidents; indirect costs include lost productivity caused by employee injuries or illnesses and the costs associated with replacing or training replacement workers; direct costs include medical bills associated with injured workers – however preventing chemical accidents significantly reduces these expenses.