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How to Keep Workers Safe Around Chemicals

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It may surprise you to learn that more than half a million Americans work in laboratories, according to numbers from the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). These important jobs can also be quite dangerous because of the chemical hazards in the laboratory environment. Although governed by numerous local, state, and federal regulations, proper chemical management can be difficult to ensure. However, there are proven methods that can reduce the risk of workplace injuries and accidents. Here are three of them.

Rule 1: Follow the Rules

The most important step an employer can take to ensure safe chemical management is to follow the standards and regulations set forth by OSHA. The federal agency requires all facilities to assess potential workplace hazards and then develop plans and procedures to prevent those chemicals from harming workers. By putting these plans into practice from day one, employees will get into the habit of handling hazardous materials in a manner that minimizes the chances of a mishap.

Although plans and procedures may differ based on the hazard, they often include things like wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and properly storing dangerous chemicals when not in use. Odds are excellent that the rules of chemical management will be similar, even when numerous materials are being handled at the same time.

Rule 2: Always Read the Label

The number one reason why lab workers get injured is that they fall into dangerous habits and routines. The simplest and most effective way to avoid this common error is for employers to insist that workers read every label of every container they pick up before they pour its chemical contents. This extra step will get them into the habit of stopping for a moment to think about the potentially hazardous chemical they will soon be working with. It can also ensure that they have the right product for the job, thereby reducing the risk of an unintentional chemical reaction.

Rule 3: Regular Reminders

Even if they follow the rules and read labels, complacency can rear its ugly head after hundreds of hours on the job. One simple way to minimize this risk is to post signs in the laboratory that remind them to be vigilant at all times. Weekly safety meetings are another way for employers to impress upon workers the importance of safe chemical management in the lab. Handing out a single data sheet that includes simple safety guidelines can keep this message fresh in the minds of at-risk employees.

Companies should implement these rules as soon as possible to reduce the risk of injuries and accidents. A safe work environment is important both to the company as well as to individual employees, especially in a more at-risk setting like a laboratory. If you have any questions about safe chemical management, please don't hesitate to call us or fill out our online form today.

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