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The handling of hazardous chemicals is a job requirement in many workplaces, but it can also be a dangerous one. Any employee who must come into contact with hazardous chemicals to perform their duties must fully understand guidelines for safely handling these substances. Mandates such as OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) ensure that information about chemical and toxic substance hazards in the workplace as well as protective measures are readily available for workers.
To help you maintain a safe workplace, we have outlined a few fundamental guidelines for handling hazardous chemicals. Keep in mind that this list is not exhaustive and your employer may have specific requirements outside of these suggestions.
Be Alert and Cautious
Handling a hazardous substance can pose a risk to life and property. That means that hazardous chemicals should be treated with the utmost care and respect. Be aware of your surroundings and do your best to anticipate any challenges you may encounter while you’re handling a dangerous substance. Remember that chemicals should only ever be used for their intended and approved purposes.
Follow all established procedures and job training to minimize the risk of accidents. After handling the material, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Work areas should also be cleaned at the end of every shift to minimize the risk of contamination.
Utilize Proper PPE
Personal protective equipment (PPE) should be easily accessible for any employee exposed to hazardous chemicals. Always inspect your PPE carefully before use to make sure it is fully intact and safe for use. Any damaged PPE should be disposed of and replaced immediately.
Properly Seal, Label, and Store All Chemicals
Each chemical has specific requirements for handling and storage. If you are unsure of a chemical’s specific procedure, refer to the SDS data for that particular chemical. As a general rule, make sure that all containers are properly labeled and that the material is contained in an appropriate container. Do not use any unlabeled or improperly contained chemicals, even if you think you know what’s inside. Report any damaged containers or illegible labels to a supervisor immediately.
Store chemicals according to their specific requirements as listed on the SDS data. Generally, materials should be stored in a well-ventilated, cool, dry area, taking care to separate any incompatible materials.
Know Your SDS Data
As mentioned above, SDS data should accompany all chemical substance shipments and be stored in an easily accessible location for at least 30 years after the last shipment is received. Familiarize yourself with the data listed on the SDS, including proper storage, handling and required PPE. You should also review the emergency exposure procedures for every hazardous chemical that you come in contact with while performing your job duties.
Understand Emergency Procedures
Your entire team should be well-versed in all emergency procedures and required equipment should an accident occur. This means knowing the proper procedures for evacuation, emergency reporting, containing spills or fires and handling medical emergencies involving chemicals. Some workplaces will have safety teams or conduct drills to help familiarize employees with safety procedures so they can act swiftly during a real emergency.
Hazardous chemicals can be dangerous. With the right care and handling, you can minimize the risk of an accident. At H.M. Royal, we take workplace safety very seriously. SDS and TDS data for all chemicals that we distribute are easily accessible on our website. For more information, please contact an H.M. Royal product specialist.