Hazardous chemicals are a real and present danger in more than 3 million American workplaces, according to OSHA. If yours is one of them, train your workers to avoid the risk of exposure.
1. Know What You’re Up Against
- Pay attention to safety training, and learn all you can about potential hazards.
- Ask questions whenever you’re not sure about a hazard or protective measure.
- Read the chemical label and SDS to learn about:
-Health problems that can result from exposure, and
-Routes of exposure.
2. Use Assigned Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Read the SDS to find out which type of PPE will protect you from exposure.
- Select PPE that’s in good condition and fits properly.
- Remove and dispose of PPE carefully to prevent the spread of contamination.
3. Handle Chemicals Safely
- Inspect containers regularly, and report leaks and missing or unreadable labels.
- Keep containers closed when not in use.
- Remove from a container only the amount you need for a job.
- Use required ventilation to remove vapors.
- Store and use chemicals away from conditions that could cause hazardous reactions.
4. Practice Good Hygiene
- Keep food, drink, tobacco products, cosmetics, and street clothes out of hazardous areas.
- Wash thoroughly after working with hazardous chemicals.
- Launder separately work clothes that may be contaminated.
5. Know What to Do in an Emergency
- Clean up spills and leaks immediately if you are authorized and trained to do so, or alert trained responders.
- Follow your evacuation route immediately in an emergency.
- Act fast after contact with a hazardous material:
-Get into fresh air after inhalation; then get medical attention.
-Flush with water after skin or eye contact; then get medical attention.
-Get immediate medical attention after swallowing a hazardous material.
Why It Matters
- The basic goal of hazard communication is to ensure your employees understand the hazards of chemicals and the precautions they must take to protect their safety, health, and the environment.
- Now, under the GHS, the Hazard Communication Standard will change, aligning U.S. regulations with the international system.
- Employees need to understand the Hazard Communication Standard, the risks of exposure, the new GHS-compliant chemical labels and SDSs, and measures they can take to protect themselves.