Chemical Safety in the Workplace
Chemicals are one of the most common types of hazardous substances. A variety of frequently used products contain chemicals, such as cleaning products, pesticides and paint.
Many organisations use some of these substances on a regular basis. As such, it’s important for employers to take necessary precautions to protect employees, contractors and others who may spend time at the premises.
When using chemicals at the workplace, organisations should take the following steps:
- Store chemicals in a clean, cool and dry location. Do not store heavy containers on high shelves.
- Keep chemicals in their original containers.
- Secure storage areas to prevent vulnerable or unauthorised people from gaining access to chemicals.
- Avoid mixing products that contain chemicals.
- Do not allow employees to use chemicals if they have not received training on how to do so safely.
- Never leave chemical products unattended.
- Keep the workplace well ventilated.
Furthermore, employees should be trained to take the following precautions:
- Read the labels of chemical products and follow all instructions.
- Use personal protective equipment.
- Report any chemical spills, damaged containers or other dangers immediately.
- When safe to do so, clean up spills immediately.
- Wash hands thoroughly immediately after working with chemicals.
For many organisations, chemical products are a necessary part of daily operations. However, it’s important that employers and workers do not become complacent or irresponsible.
Chemicals may cause a variety of health problems, including burns, asthma, allergic reactions, dermatitis and cancer. In addition to severe health risks for workers, employers that do not take proper precautions with chemicals may be found to be in violation of the Control of Hazardous Substances to Health Regulations 2002.
Engineering Company Fined After Employee Suffers Scalping Injuries
P&D Engineering Limited has been fined £62,334 after an incident during which an employee’s ponytail became wrapped around a rotating drill. The woman experienced life changing injuries, including having part of her ear and scalp torn off. The injuries resulted in nine surgeries and the amputation of the damaged ear. An HSE investigation found that the rotating parts of the drill were not properly guarded. Furthermore, the HSE found that P&D Engineering’s own risk assessment deemed a guard necessary, but the drill continued to be used without one for years. The organisation pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and, in addition to the aforementioned fine, was ordered to pay costs of £1,459.90.
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