Make sure employees who get anywhere near hazardous materials understand the risks and the precautions. Depending on the hazardous material and the amount, hazards can range from moderate to deadly. Your employees also need to realize that hazardous substances can be hazardous in different ways. They can be:
- Corrosive (burn skin or eyes on contact)
- Flammable or combustible (catch fire and burn)
- Explosive (rapid expansion of gases)
- Reactive (burn, explode, or release hazardous vapors on contact with air, water, or other chemicals)
- Toxic (poisonous)
To prevent accidents and injuries, teach workers to take the right steps before handling a hazardous material. Before handling, employees should:
- Read labels and SDSs to learn about hazards and required safety precautions.
- Assemble and inspect PPE recommended by the label and SDS.
- Check for adequate ventilation.
- Remove any items from the work area that could ignite or react with the hazardous material.
- Know the location of fire extinguishers, alarms, first-aid kits, eyewash stations, emergency showers, etc.
- Understand your emergency procedures in the event of a chemical spill or other accidental release.
- Know the symptoms of exposure and the appropriate first aid.
- Have the proper training and approval from their supervisor to carry out the operation. While Handling.
When employees handle hazardous materials, they need to take the following precautions:
- Work carefully, anticipate anything that might go wrong, and have a plan for safely handling any problems that might occur.
- Make sure hazardous substance containers are properly sealed and in good condition and not leaking.
- Report any spills immediately and follow appropriate rules for activating cleanup procedures (for example, calling in an emergency response team for large spills).
- Check with a supervisor immediately if they experience any problems they don’t understand or can’t handle.
- Take immediate action in the event of any unprotected exposure (getting appropriate first aid, notifying a supervisor, and getting follow-up medical evaluation and treatment, if necessary).
After employees are finished working with hazardous substances, they should:
- Follow required decontamination procedures.
- Remove and dispose of contaminated protective clothing and PPE carefully to avoid skin contact.
- Wash thoroughly after removing PPE and work clothes.