Last month All Round Safety covered hazardous substances and presented a risk assessment, and this month they recommend some actionable tips to help mitigate the risks associated with hazardous substances, starting with storage.
Store hazardous substances in specific hazardous substance storage cabinets which comply with the relevant Australian and or NZ Standards. This allows goods to be stored away from unauthorised personnel and incompatible substances.
Secondly, they look at respiratory protection. Inhalation is common method of exposure for workers and it is important that workers use the correct respirator and filters for the chemicals they’re working with. Respirators should be issued to specific workers (not shared), be properly fit tested and the correct filters supplied and changed regularly. Your skin is your largest organ and you should avoid contact with most chemicals in order to eliminate the risk of absorption. Not all chemical suits will protect against all chemicals so it’s important to understand whether the chemical suit you’re using is suitable for the chemicals your workers are exposed to. Just like chemical suits, not all chemical gloves provide a barrier to all chemicals and it’s important that you choose the glove that suits the chemical’s you’re working with. Most reputable glove and coverall manufacturers and distributors will be able to tell you the best protective apparel for your job.
You also need to be prepared for a chemical emergency, ensuring workers know what to do in the event of a spill, leak or contamination. Safety Data Sheets should be readily available, along with emergency showers and eyewashes, spill kits and fire extinguishers. You also need to ensure the appropriate signage is on display for the hazardous substances you have on site. The general rule of thumb is that someone entering the worksite should be easily able to see that certain hazardous substances are on site and be told of any areas they are not allowed into. Furthermore, fire and emergency services must be made aware of the potential dangers as they enter the property.
In short, if your business stores or uses hazardous substances you need to make sure you have completed a thorough risk assessment. SDS sheets are useful place to start. All Round Safety strongly suggest you take a precautionary approach, as many of the long-term health impacts of chemical exposure, even at low levels are still not well understood, and to find out more about safety apparel, safety clothing and safety helmets NZ please go to https://www.allroundsafety.co.nz .