Chemical spills are one of the most serious workplace issues. Dozens of U.S. employees die each year due to exposure or inhalation of dangerous chemicals.
That’s where employees who deal with dangerous chemicals need to understand the protocols when they’re exposed. That means looking at chemical spill cleanup, understanding safety precautions, and a whole lot more.
We’re going to look at workplace chemical spills today, giving you some insight into what your faculty should do to be better prepared. We hope the insights below can give you food for thought on your workplace can adapt.
Let’s get started.
Handling a Chemical Spill in the Workplace
The first thing to do is assess your workplace for all potentially hazardous chemicals. What are the immediate risks of your workplace and which chemicals do you need to worry about?
Once you’ve identified the dangerous chemicals that could spill, you should understand the health risks of those chemicals. This guide is a helpful resource for understanding the specific risks of various chemicals.
Each chemical has the potential to get into a person’s lungs, eyes, mouth, and skin. These are the key areas for you to think about and plan for in the event of exposure.
You don’t have to come up with a safety protocol for these instances of exposure. Fortunately, there are established methods of staying safe when someone comes in contact with particular chemicals. You just need to find those methods.
The first place to look is the company that sells you chemicals. They should have resources that could help you. In some instances, they will offer their own safety guides for their products.
Make Health Protocols Available
Many businesses neglect the idea of a health risk and shover their protocols into desk drawers. If there were ever a spill emergency, employees would struggle to find the protocol.
It’s unsafe to keep your chemical spill protocols in an office drawer. It should be obvious for anyone to find a guide on what to do. You could use a poster near dangerous areas, keep guides at regular points throughout the building, and more.
The point is to make it easy for people to find protocols.
In addition to being present around the office, protocols need to be concise. Wordy and difficult-to-read guides waste time and risk lives. It might be worth hiring a copywriter or someone skilled in writing to make the guide.
Make instructions as simple as possible. Use imagery to assist your writing. Create the protocol document in a logical order that most people could understand.
The volume of hazardous accidents that occur each year shows us that training is absolutely essential for any business that holds dangerous chemicals.
This training isn’t just disaster preparation. It’s a comprehensive look at the handling and management of dangerous chemicals. Employees don’t usually receive this training.
A comprehensive understanding of disaster prevention reduces workplace injuries. Most often, chemical spills occur when someone doesn’t know what they’re doing.
Ignorance is the biggest issue at play with injuries and deaths. The use of common sense or intuition isn’t enough to protect your employees and customers from the risks of a hazardous spill. These facts make it very important to consider investing in HazCom training for your staff.
Revisit Practice and Training With Your Staff
Your staff should be reminded regularly about the protocols for workplace chemical spills. You might repeat a refresher course for your staff every six months or so and include courses as-needed when new employees arrive.
A simple packet or quiz on the fundamentals is all that’s necessary in some workplaces. Just ensure that there’s enough to refresh the memory of everyone in the workspace.
The Bottom Line in Workplace Safety
Because workplaces are so unique and there are so many chemicals to consider, there’s no simple answer to the issue of chemical spills in the workplace. Each workplace needs a plan that’s tailored to its environment.
The type of floors you work on, the nature of the duties of your staff, and the danger of the chemicals you work with are all important. A professional instructor can evaluate your workplace and produce an effective safety course.
A bandaid-type approach to chemical safety will not work. The potential risks are too high and there are too many variables to consider.
If you care about the health and wellness of your staff, it’s important that you work with professionals and become informed about the particular risks your staff faces. Only then can you conduct a truly safe and responsible workplace.
Spills When You’re Unprepared
If you’re not prepared with courses and company protocol, what do you do when there’s a spill?
The first thing to do is to ask your local public safety officials for assistance. Remove yourself from the room and make sure everyone around you does the same.
If someone’s been touched or harmed by the chemical spill, you may need to dial 911. Unfamiliar chemicals can be extremely toxic, so dial 911 if you’re uncertain.
You can flush exposed skin with water for around fifteen minutes to dull the pain. After fifteen minutes, you can keep flushing if the pain doesn’t subside. The same is true for eye washing.
Eyewashing stations flush water into your eyes to cleanse them from chemicals. You can flush your eyes for fifteen minutes or as needed. That should give you enough time to ease pain before first responders arrive and take control of the situation.
If you’ve spilled more than 2.5 liters of chemicals, that’s always cause to evacuate the room and call 911. You’ll need professionals to enter and prevent the spill from entering storm drains or affecting other structures.
Need More Workplace Tips and Tricks?
We hope our look at workplace chemical spills was useful to you. There’s more to learn about keeping yourself and your staff safe, though. We’re here to help.
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