There are a lot of industries that heavily depend on the use of various chemicals and that is why safety has to be their number one priority. For instance, you have petrochemical, agrochemical and specialty chemical companies, each manufacturing something essential for the existence of our civilization. Other than this, various chemicals are used in the production of plastic, explosives, as well as in the field of medical research (especially in the pharmaceutical industry). However, a lot of these chemicals are all but safe to handle. Therefore, what you need are some tips to ensure the safety of your staff (that’s in charge of handling them), as well as the safety of the production facility. Here are eight such tips.
Invest in safety training your employees
The first thing you need to understand is the fact that a lot of people read the manual just once and then apply only those steps that they remember or that they find intuitive. The thing is that you need to drill them relentlessly and be so vigilant in the supervision of their training process, that safe-conduct with these sensitive materials becomes their second nature. If they can’t remember what to do next, this means that they haven’t been drilled hard enough.
Insist on the use of PPE
The next thing you need to bear in mind is the importance of adequate personal protective equipment (PPE). Personal protective equipment can be divided into four levels A, B, C and D with A being the highest and D lowest level of protection priority. For instance, when it comes to the level A of protection, this is a scenario where an employee in question would wear fully encapsulating chemical protective suit and self-contained breathing apparatus. Level B would be merely wearing chemical resistant clothing (in the form of a long-sleeved jacket, hooded two-piece splash suit, etc.). As far as level D Is concerned, this is a primary work uniform and is used merely for nuisance contamination. Needless to say, this is a topic that requires some further research.
Ensure that everything is properly labelled
Ideally, you would treat any container properly, without ever compromising its content. In practice, you need a warning in order to know when to be extra careful. This is why every single container needs to be properly labelled. Other than just printing words, go for warning colours like red and words like danger, hazard, toxic, etc. Apart from this, what you need to keep in mind is the use of symbols. Everyone knows the symbol for dangerous, toxic and even radioactive materials. Nonetheless, you could go the extra mile and remind them of this, while you’re at it.
Ensure safety storage
When it comes to toxic, flammable or fragile materials, you can’t just keep them on a shelf. Instead, what you need are sturdy and durable safety storage cabinets. Needless to say, these cabinets are specifically manufactured to provide protection from impact, heat and all different sorts of hazardous and dangerous influences. They also have self-closing, self-latching mechanisms installed in their doors and liquid-tight spill containment sump. Sure, you have to be careful around these materials but you can never be too careful.
Use everything for its intended purpose
This is something that sounds a bit too obvious, yet, you would be surprised to learn just how many employees completely ignore this suggestion, even outright ignore the label. If you need to disinfect your hands, you need a specialized disinfection solution. If you need to wipe your equipment, you need to use the solution that’s intended for this very purpose. As simple as this may sound, it may end up saving lives.
Focus on your task
The next major mistake that people make around hazardous materials is trying to multitask. Moreover, this happens in the most ridiculously reckless ways. For instance, people eat, drink or use cosmetics while handling these materials. Worst yet, they tend to handle contact lenses briefly after touching something incredibly pollutant and toxic. This can have a long-term effect on their health and may seriously endanger them and those around them. As we’ve already mentioned, there are so many tips here that are supposed to be intuitive but, then again, we definitely wouldn’t address them if there was no reason for it.
Keep it clean and organized
In a messy environment, it’s quite easy to envision an area in which your employee can slip or trip, thus making a fatal mistake. When handling chemicals and flammable materials and objects, it’s often quite easy for it all to escalate fairly quickly. So, by keeping the place tidy and neat, you can minimize the odds of this happening. However, how do you handle this? Outsourcing your cleaning is not the smartest move, seeing as how you’ll have an untrained staff from a third-party company to assist you. Therefore, it would be best if your staff could use the last half hour of their workday to prepare the place for tomorrow. Sure, this is a loss in terms of productivity but a massive boost when it comes to the overall safety.
Have a contingency plan
Murphy’s law claims that everything that can go wrong will go wrong. Now, while some see this as a pessimistic or even sarcastic remark, the truth is that preparing for the worst is one of the wisest things you can ever do. What do you if there’s a spill? What do you do in case of fire? What if someone’s suit gets compromised? What happens if someone gets injured? How do you respond to different types of injuries? These are all just some of the questions that you have to handle well ahead of time.
In the end, these are all serious matters that you need to settle well ahead of time. You see, the more time you spend preparing for these nightmare scenarios, the bigger the chance that you will be able to avert them or, at very least, launch a timely response. This alone would be a reason enough for you to take as much time as you need in order to make sure that everything is done by the book. Remember, lives are at stake.