Teaching employees to properly handle hazardous chemicals

Physical trauma is one of the biggest threats in many workplaces, but chemicals can be even more dangerous. They often have different storage needs, can easily ignite, and are apt to react powerfully when not handled correctly.

As a result, it is important to understand all of the variables that affect how chemicals should be treated in the workplace. Any employee who could possibly come into contact with a hazardous chemical needs to undergo rigorous training. At a minimum, supervisors and management need to be sure that there is a material safety data sheet (MSDS) for every substance at a workplace. Even something as common as liquid soap or hand sanitizer - if it's in your workplace, you should have MSDSs on file.

An MSDS documents all of the information staff would need to know about any substance. That includes its composition, how to identify it, first aid requirements for a variety of situations including inhalation, other chemicals that could have an adverse reaction with it, how it should be transported, and other essential details. MSDS literature comes from chemical manufacturers and should be included with the product.

To properly use an MSDS, supervisors and managers should review the data sheets for the chemicals commonly used at a worksite. Additionally, the location of every MSDS should be made clear to workers so that if the worst should happen, the important data is close at hand. An MSDS can also include the safety products, including safety glasses and safety gloves, that are important to use when dealing with chemical spills and dispersion.

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