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Hazardous Chemicals – WHS Guide

Hazardous Chemicals in the Workplace Managing Your RisksIdentifying Chemical Hazards

There are many different types of chemical dangers, and they all have the potential to harm people or the environment if they get handled inappropriately. Alternatively, it is a real danger posed by a particular chemical, such as the potential for skin burns, long-term health effects, environmental harm, and even flames or explosions.

Working with your employees and listing any chemicals currently being used, handled, stored, or created at your workplace as a first step toward risk management. It usually is possible to identify chemicals in the workplace by glancing at the label and the SDS and reading what chemicals or products include. Welding fumes, for example, may necessitate the absence of a label or SDS for a chemical in specific instances.

A chemical hazard must be assessed in light of predetermined standards by the chemical’s producer or importer. Classification of chemicals is according to their hazard classification, which dictates what labels and SDSs must include, including danger statements and pictograms. This process is called classification. For example, a chemical’s hazard classification may change due to new knowledge. Manufacturers and importers are required to develop labels and SDS and must routinely examine the information on them to ensure it is correct and up-to-date.

A hazardous chemical must be labelled appropriately as soon as it is manufactured or imported by the maker or importer. If the provider of a hazardous chemical knows or should reasonably know that the dangerous chemical is not adequately labelled, they may not supply the chemical to another workplace.

These are the chemical qualities that have the potential to cause instant harm to humans or property. As a result of the presence of these substances, there are several potential physical dangers. People and property can be injured or damaged if handled or misused due to the inherent physical hazard.

Chemical Hazard Risk Management

Separating work areas

It would be best to break the work into smaller components (locations/areas or processes) to make risk assessment more manageable. Using floor layouts or process diagrams, you may determine how to split the workplace.

Organizing comparable projects into a single group

Workers who do comparable work or use similar drugs may get grouped if their exposures indicate their group. As a group, they’re known as “similarly exposed individuals.” As a result, you won’t have to do exposure evaluations on every employee again.

Organizing compounds into groups based on similarity.

It is possible to classify hazardous compounds based on their form, characteristics, and how they are used or handled if many chemicals are involved.

Review work procedures

Specific duties may necessitate workers to deviate from regular operating procedures. One reason is that they have developed a more efficient and safe technique for executing that activity or because the control measures or PPE made it difficult and onerous to accomplish the task. Observe and speak with employees to learn how the task happens after splitting it into manageable chunks.

Hierarchy of Controls

ELIMINATION

Elimination is the most effective risk-control approach available. Use elimination first before any other control methods get considered. By eliminating the source of the problem, the unsafe work environment can return to normal. Some instances of removing dangerous chemicals from the workplace include:

  • Use fasteners like screws or nails instead of chemical adhesives.
  • Using electric forklifts instead of LPG-powered forklifts to eliminate the usage of flammable forklift gas.

SUBSTITUTION

Substituting a dangerous substance is the best option when you can’t altogether remove its use. Replacing a hazardous substance for a less harmful and risky alternative is known as substitution.

Substituting hazardous chemicals can be difficult since their harmful features frequently make them particularly successful in industrial and chemical operations. If you’ve ever tried to paint a car, you know how vital it is that the thinner used to dilute the paint evaporates quickly. However, paint thinners that evaporate quickly are more volatile. Vulnerable substances are more likely to spontaneously combust in the presence of a spark or ignition source.

ISOLATION

Isolate the hazardous chemical if it is not possible to substitute the usage of the hazardous chemical with a less dangerous alternative. In a variety of methods, this can get accomplished. Using the above example, you might construct a ventilated enclosure over a component of the manufacturing process that uses a dangerous chemical. Sections like this prevent toxins in one region of the factory from spreading to other parts of the facility where people work. In an area where people are unlikely to assemble, the pollutants created inside this cage should get released to the outside environment for safe disposal.

People in the workplace face exposure to a wide range of dangers from chemical exposures. Implementing the most effective controls is initially essential to minimize these dangers’ negative impacts. Elimination is the most powerful control in the hierarchy. Substitution, isolation, and engineering controls are the following most effective controls if elimination isn’t possible.

If you want to learn more about chemical hazards and methods to control them click  here .

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