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5 Safety Measures to Take When Handling Chemicals

Date: 29-09-2020

Exposure to harmful substances resulted in the deaths of 49 people back in 2015. If the handling of chemicals or hazardous materials is a regular part of your workplace it is important to ensure the necessary safety precautions are taken to help protect you and your colleagues.

Let's take a closer look at 5 important safety measures to take when handling chemicals. 

1. Documentation

Be sure to keep up to date information on any chemicals being used in the workplace. This should include the amounts being used and the risks associated with each chemical.

A thorough risk assessment should be produced for each chemical. Once complete it is imperative that this information is distributed to all those who require it as part of their training in regards to handling chemicals. 

2. PPE

Always use the correct PPE when handling chemicals. This should be inspected prior to each use to ensure that its safe to use. All PPE should be regularly inspected so that worn out and damaged PPE can be replaced immediately.

PPE such as rubber gloves and maximum skin protection can help protect against chemical burns. Always ensure there is minimal risk of hazardous chemicals coming in to contact with naked skin.   

3. Storage

How you store chemicals and other hazardous materials is not just a matter of safety, its also a legal requirement. If you hold over a certain amount of hazardous substances you may need a compliance certificate to certify that you’re keeping to correct storage protocol. You can use this hazardous substance calculator to work out whether or not you require a compliance certificate  

General rules for the storage of hazardous substances include:

  • Ensure all containers are appropriate and properly labelled
  • Ensure storage methods comply with the information provided on the safety data sheet for each chemical
  • Chemicals should never be stored higher than eye level, and any shelves should have an anti-roll lip. 
  • Incompatible chemicals should never be stored together to prevent the chance of unwanted reactions. Eg. Do not store acids and alkalis together.
  • All liquids should be stored in unbreakable or double-contained packaging. If this isn’t possible then the storage cabinet must have the capacity to hold the liquid should the container break.
  • All storage areas should be checked and cleaned regularly as well as being equipped with the necessary first-aid and safety equipment.

4. Personal Hygiene

There are a few personal hygiene rules that should always be adhered to when handling hazardous substances.

  • PPE should never be worn outside of controlled areas to avoid contamination
  • Never take any PPE such as lab coats home to be washed 
  • Never eat, drink or smoke whilst handling chemicals 
  • Always wash your hands after removing gloves and before leaving any controlled areas. Avoid touching items such as your phone or doorknobs until you’ve washed your hands.

5. Housekeeping

Work areas should always be kept tidy to minimize the risk of slips and spillages. First aid kits should be regularly checked and appropriately stocked, as well as making sure Spill kits are readily available at any sites where chemicals are present. Any chemical spills should be reported immediately and tended to by a trained employee. 

Safety First When Handling Chemicals

Accidental chemical exposure can result in death, so taking the necessary safety precautions when handling chemicals is a must. If you work with hazardous substances then be sure to adhere to these five safety measures to help reduce the risk of an incident.

For more information regarding safety in the workplace don’t hesitate to contact Amare Safety specialists or take a look around our online store for safety items.