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Protecting Your Health When Working With Harsh Chemicals

For those working with hazardous chemicals, a prevalent culture of health and safety should be in place. Chemicals are unpredictable and for many the repercussions of coming into contact with them can be severe and even deadly. Harsh chemicals are used in a number of industries, from manufacturing to cleaning to beauty – but the same rules apply for all.

High quality PPE is something every employer should be supplying, PPE providers such as Safeaid work tirelessly to offer high standard safety wear and many offer next day delivery so there can be no excuses for delaying work or the right amount of protection. For those working with harsh chemicals, here is how to reduce the risk of injury:

Ensure respiratory protection is in place

Breathing in toxic chemical fumes which contain carbon monoxide and cyanide can cause the airways to swell, become irritated or blocked and ultimately lead to respiratory failure and at the very least, breathing issues, headaches and nausea.

This is why RPE (respirators and breathing apparatus) is used in many workplaces to protect workers who work with hazardous substances. RPE comes in various forms of face piece, such as helmets, visors, hoods and masks.

Everyone wearing a mask must fit securely over the nose and mouth. For men with facial hair it is recommended that this is shaved or trimmed close to the face to ensure a better seal from the mask. The area you are working in should also be well ventilated, this must be an effective LEV or dust/fume extraction system to ensure employees are protected. By law you must ensure any airflow indicators you have in place are working effectively.

Protect eyes

Protective eyewear must be worn Safety goggles are essential if there is even a small chance that the chemicals you are working with can come into contact with your face. They ensure that eyesight is protected and many are available with anti-fog features, so you can work comfortably without the need to remove them and endanger yourself. All chemicals are hazardous to eyes, so ensure safety goggles and glasses are worn always.

Keep hands safe

We all work with our hands and when chemicals are involved they must be completely covered. Nitrile gloves, for example, are puncture-resistant and can stand the test of time when using them to deal with chemicals; jet and motoring fuel, alcohol, ammonia, formaldehyde and kerosene are all unable to cause harm to those wearing nitrile gloves, making them a popular choice for many when working with harsh chemicals. Before purchasing gloves check carefully what they can and can’t be used with to avoid injuries.

Chemicals must be stored correctly

Poor storage solutions for harsh chemicals can result in accident and injury later down the line. Ensure you and other members of staff are aware of the dangers and that you employ strict rules when it comes to storing chemicals. This involves everything from correct containment to stacking safely. Avoid storing harsh chemicals on the floor or where there is lots of foot traffic and check that they are also labelled correctly.

When it comes to using chemicals safely in the work environment ensure these basic precautions are in place and avoid injury or accidents in the workplace.