Maintaining Workplace Safety When Working with Hazardous Chemical Substances
Most people assume that they would be able to recognise danger if they see it. If someone smells smoke and sees a fire, they would likely know there is danger and would either try to leave the area or put out the fire. Such a situation is still dangerous, even if it is detected early, as there are usually safety protocols that need to be followed that are meant to ensure that everyone stays alive. A problem arises when workers encounter something they cannot easily see or smell (or detect with any of their other senses for that matter). This is especially prevalent in industries and workplaces that deal with a lot of hazardous chemical substances.
Some hazardous chemical substances can only be detected with specialised equipment but pose a danger nonetheless and need to be accounted for with proper workplace safety protocols. In this article, we will look at some of the hazardous chemical substances that may be encountered by workers and how these substances are detected and monitored, and we also give some general workplace safety tips to help maintain a safe work environment.
The Types of Hazardous Chemical Substances Encountered in The Workplace
There are at least nine different types of hazardous chemical substances that workers may encounter. These categories cover most of the hazards that may be encountered, but additional categories may sometimes be needed to create proper safety protocols.
- Asphyxiants – Chemical components that interfere with breathing.
- Corrosives – Cause destructive reactions when coming into contact with skin or other materials.
- Irritants – Cause irritations in the lungs and eyes, as well as on the skin.
- Allergens – May cause an allergic reaction in sensitive people.
- Carcinogens – Pose a significant cancer risk.
- Mutagens – Pose a threat directly to DNA and RNA, the alteration of which could lead to cancer.
- Teratogens – May cause birth defects in pregnant workers.
- Reactive Chemicals – Chemicals that can cause destruction and damage when coming into contact with other chemicals.
- Flammables – Anything that can catch fire easily or cause fires to spread quickly.
Most of these hazards are accounted for by air sampling (measuring the quality of the air against industry standards), through area sampling (measuring safety protocols in place), and baseline risk assessments (examining or identifying all potential hazards and creating comprehensive monitoring and management strategies).
Maintaining A Safe Workplace
Maintaining workplace safety is simply a matter of conducting frequent inspections and addressing problems before they get out of hand. It is important to promote awareness and occupational vigilance to ensure that all employees know when something is potentially dangerous and that they know the correct channels to follow to report these issues or to safely dispose of the problem if they are qualified to do so. Employees that regularly work with hazardous chemical substances should also be allowed to take frequent breaks to allow them to monitor their own health and to ensure that they do not get tired while handling dangerous materials.
Workplace safety procedures should be updated regularly to ensure that they are up to industry standards. All employees should also receive regular updates on these procedures, and they should almost instinctively know what to do when something goes wrong.