Constant exposure to chemicals in the workplace can be grave and have potentially fatal consequences. Several industries, from agriculture to healthcare and so on, are exposed to various forms of toxic substances, making it practical to take steps to eliminate or reduce exposure.
A recent UK report revealed that over thousands of substances are used in the workplace, yet only a few hundred meet workplace exposure limits (WELs), accounting for many work-related illnesses. Continue reading to learn practical ways to prevent chemical exposure in your workplace.
Identify And Evaluate The Risk
Chemical exposure within the workplace is a genuine and ongoing threat. Businesses must take every precaution to discover and assess potential risks to safeguard their employees’ safety and health.
Chemical exposure can cause significant health problems, from brief breathing difficulties to long-term diseases. As an employer, you must assess the hazards associated with your workplace and implement suitable control measures to limit or eliminate the dangers.
You may perform a full workplace risk evaluation, including identification of all chemicals used, possible dangers, and exposure.
Use Appropriate Protective Equipment
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is essential for preventing chemical exposure. Depending on the chemicals you’re dealing with, you may need to provide overalls, gloves, chemical-resistant glasses, face shields, and respirators.
You may use PPE to supplement higher-level control measures for high-risk activities, such as spray painting, abrasive blasting, and emergency response.
Meanwhile, training or guiding your employees and any other person on your site or facility to wear their PPEs to guarantee the best protection would be best.
Implement Engineering Controls
Engineering controls can drastically reduce chemical exposure in the workplace. These controls may include ventilation systems that exhaust chemicals away from the workplace, chemical storage cabinets that guard against potential accidental exposure, and barrier walls that impede the movement of hazardous materials.
By implementing these measures, you can protect your workers from hazardous exposure and keep the environment safe.
Image Source: Pixabay on Pexels.com
Find Less Hazardous Chemical Alternatives
You should regularly record and review the products you frequently use in the workplace and explore safer alternatives when identifying increased safety issues or toxicity. You may also follow industry blogs and newsletters to learn about documented side effects or hazards associated with certain products.
This way, you can explore alternatives to prevent chemical exposure in your facility. Regularly taking inventory and reviewing your products is particularly crucial, especially when manufacturers may modify their product formulas by using substandard ingredients to cut costs.
Store Chemicals Safely
The potential for chemical exposure makes it essential to store such substances in designated areas with enough ventilation, away from any heat or combustion sources of heat.
You may keep your containers and chemical labels intact while
communicating and ensuring that safety instructions and protocols are strictly followed. Ensure that labels indicate the type of chemical and associated hazards and the recommended handling techniques for safe use.
Depending on the nature of your business, you may contact a chemical manufacturer to assist you in storing your chemical products off-site to keep your workplace safe.
Provide Regular Safety Training
Regular training about chemical safety best practices is paramount to mitigate the risk of chemical exposure in the workplace.
Employees must be briefed on the proper handling and storing hazardous materials and recognise the signs and symptoms of exposure. Also, it is essential to stress the significance of good hygiene, such as frequent hand washing and disposal of hazardous waste.
By providing continual training and awareness, you can help prevent potential accidents, reduce exposure to hazardous chemicals, and cultivate a safe and healthy work environment.
Respond To Chemical Spills Appropriately
Image Source: Jill Burrow on Pexels.com
Spills and slips are common in many workplaces, but how you respond to them is crucial for reducing the risks.
Many safety experts advise training employees on spill response procedures to ensure they are well prepared for any incident. The training may include spill containment, the best way to clean up, and appropriate disposal of contaminated materials to curb any spread in the workplace.
You may also provide a spill response kit while ensuring your working teams know its location for easy access.
Chemical exposure is a serious hazard in the workplace that can lead to long-term health issues and even death.
However, by identifying and evaluating the risks, using appropriate protective equipment, implementing engineering controls, training workers on chemical safety, using hazardous chemical labels, storing chemicals safely, and responding to chemical spills appropriately, you can reduce the risk of exposure and keep workers safe.
Remember, prevention is the key to a safe workplace.