Even though they are common in many worksites and facilities, chemicals of all kinds can be hazardous to our health if they’re not handled correctly.
Safe chemical handling affects more than just industrial manufacturers. If your job site uses cleaning sprays or pesticides, proper handling of these and other materials can be the difference between safety and disaster.
On “Safe Chemical Handling,” the latest episode
of Lancaster Safety: The Workplace Safety Podcast, available Monday, Oct. 26, host Sarge and Director of Industrial Safety & Compliance at Justrite Safety Group, Andy Brousseau, will dive into what steps can be taken to prevent your employees from being exposed to hazardous chemicals. Both will also cover what you would need to know if there were a hazardous chemical emergency on your worksite.
Here’s some of what the podcast will cover.
Regulating of Hazardous Materials
In the U.S., both federal and state governments regulate chemicals and other hazardous materials.
On the environmental side, the Environmental Protection Agency (or EPA) regulates hazardous materials and hazardous wastes to protect the environment. States also have their own environmental agencies that go by many different names.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) regulates how hazardous materials are transported across the U.S., whether by road, rail, air, or water.
In workplaces, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulates the use and storage of hazardous materials with the aim of protecting the safety and health of you, your coworkers, and workers across America.
The OSHA Hazard Communication Standard
When it comes to chemical safety in the workplace, one of the many ways OSHA ensures worker safety is with OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard.
This federal regulation covers responsibilities employers have to workers’ safety around chemicals. The OSHA Hazard Communication Standard also says that workers have the right to know about:
- Which chemicals are used in your workplace
- Why these chemicals can be hazardous
- How to handle chemicals safely to protect yourself from hazards
Brousseau on Safe Chemical Handling:
"Have you ever taken a spray bottle and filled it with another chemical? Even just Windex? That individual spray bottle needs to have a label saying what’s in it.”
We’ve all repurposed a spray bottle for a different use at some point. OSHA regulations spell out clearly that any repurposed container must be clearly labeled for its new contents.
“A lot of accidents can happen this way because someone else comes across the bottle and thinks it is just water,” explains Broussou on the podcast. “What’s in the bottle might be flammable or harmful.”
“OSHA requires secondary container labels [on containers] that chemicals are transferred into from the primary container...The label must be legible and readable,” says Broussou.
Pro tip: “Some chemicals can tear off Sharpie marker writing,” says Broussou. “Make sure you’re using the right container [and label] for the job."
Other Safe Chemical Handling Topics
Don’t miss other key tips from experts in this episode! Standards exist for a reason, and this episode covers some great reminders of the simple ways you can keep you and your coworkers safe on-site by using the standard operating procedures.