A Quick Guide to Identifying and Preventing Chemical Hazards

Around 32 million people work with and can be exposed to one or more chemical hazards that can affect their health. There are around 650,000 chemical products out there and more are introduced regularly.

This can be a serious problem for both you and your employees if it is not handled properly.

It’s best to know what types of chemical hazards are out there and how you can prevent them. Keep reading to learn how to protect your employees and your company.

Types of Chemical Hazards

A chemical health hazard happens when someone, either a worker or other personnel, is exposed to a hazardous substance. The chemical can be absorbed through the skin, ingested, swallowed, or inhaled.

Chemical health hazards typically affect the person immediately and cause reactions such as vomiting, nausea, burns, or asphyxiation. Some effects take longer to develop including liver, asthma, dermatitis, cancer, or liver damage.

There are two types of chemical hazards including the chemicals and physicochemical hazards which are reactions.

Chemical hazards include:

  • Carcinogens
  • Skin irritants
  • Respiratory sensitizers

Physicochemical hazards include:

  • Corrosion
  • Chemical reactions
  • Chemical explosions and fire

These physicochemical hazards generally result from both the substance’s physical and chemical properties.

Solvent Exposure

Anytime a person rinses, handles, cleans, or packages a product solvent exposure can happen. This is why you need to instill rigorous handling policies and procedures regardless of the activities.

Your employees may be exposed to solvents such as:

  • Methanol
  • Ethanol
  • Acetone
  • Xylene
  • 1,1,1-trichloroethane
  • Terpenes
  • N-butyl acetate

You can find bulletins and exposure information to these chemicals on both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

When exposure occurs, you should immediately report it, so it should be thoroughly evaluated with OSHA surveillance. Sampling will also occur to determine the impact of exposure and risks.

Preventing Hazardous Exposure to Chemical Solvents

The best way to lower your risk for chemical exposures is prevention. You should have policies and written procedures in place for handling dangerous chemical solvents.

Here are other things you should do to limit the effects of chemical hazards.

  • Provide all your employees the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) for the various chemicals
  • Install the appropriate ventilation to remove strong concentrations of the solvent in the air
  • Create and implement detailed handling and storage procedures for each chemical solvent
  • Give employees respiratory protection
  • Limit employee exposure using sound techniques and workplace practices
  • Keep and stow all chemicals correctly to limit exposure and also create emergency and normal use policies
  • Train employees regularly to make sure they know how to properly and safely handle solvents and chemicals

No matter if you have chemical solvents or not, you should utilize all of these preventative measures. You should also track all safety precautions and know how a safety data sheet works.

Promote Safety Today

Now that you know the types of chemical hazards, you can safely implement procedures to reduce risks. Follow these guidelines and make sure all employees are aware of how to safely handle these solvents.

Want more safety advice about your business? Keep checking out our site to learn more about safety to minimize risks.