Some chemicals used on the manufacturing floor are hazardous to employees’ health and can cause illness and injury if they are not handled correctly. Before employees begin working with any chemical, they need to identify its potential hazards, become familiar with how to best protect themselves and be aware of the procedures to follow if an accident takes place.
General Safety Precautions
The manufacturer’s label and Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for each chemical employees handle provide important information regarding hazards, the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), proper handling, transport, storage and disposal of chemicals. Each time employees encounter a chemical, they should read this information and take the appropriate precautions. In addition, share the following recommendations with employees when they are working with any toxic chemical.
- Wear the appropriate PPE when handling chemicals.
- Use the least hazardous chemical option for the task at hand and prepare only the amount that is absolutely necessary for completing the job.
- Never eat, drink, smoke or apply cosmetics while working with chemicals.
- Make sure that the equipment used to apply chemicals is in good working order and does not have any leaks.
- Do not work alone.
- Clean equipment thoroughly in an area where run-off will not create other hazards or contaminate the environment or water source.
- Wash work clothes separately from street clothes, or wear disposable clothing.
- Wash your body thoroughly after using chemicals and before eating, drinking, smoking or using the washroom.
If a co-worker is exposed to a toxic chemical, employees should consult the SDS and the product label before taking action. The correct response to exposure is as important as immediate action.
If the injured or ill person is having trouble breathing, is having convulsions or is unconscious, employees should provide the necessary first aid and call 911.
If the injured or ill person does not have any of the symptoms listed above, make sure employees know to contact the local Poison Control Centre. When calling, they should keep the chemical container handy to accurately instruct the operator about the type of exposure the person has experienced. He or she will then be able to give appropriate instructions.