How to Prevent Chemical Accidents in the Workplace

Jan 30, 2020 | Leadership, Training

Exposure to harmful chemicals is the fifth leading cause of death in the workplace, and incidents are on the rise. Last year, a Buffalo Wild Wings manager died after trying to clear an accidental mix of bleach and acid from the floor. Thirteen other people, including employees and customers, were injured in the accident. This dangerous combination of products is just one of many ways that chemicals can endanger lives at your business.

As part of a program to combat the worldwide problem of chemical accidents that lead to workplace injury, the United Nations established the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). GHS is an internationally accepted system that standardizes the way chemicals are labeled to inform employees of related hazards. Through the use of a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for each chemical, employees can look up important information about a chemical, including what it is, the types of hazards that can occur from it, first aid measures, and personal protection requirements.

Train Employees on Chemical Safety

OSHA recommends GHS training to prevent chemical accidents in the workplace. According to OSHA guidelines, GHS training should focus on the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) that is designed to reduce chemical related injuries through clear communication and protective measures.

Effective GHS training can be implemented with a blended training model that begins with basic information about the hazards of working with chemicals, how to interpret hazard labels on chemicals, how to locate and read Safety Data Sheets, and how to handle chemicals safely. This basic chemical safety training can be delivered through an online learning system to ensure every employee receives clear and consistent information.

Online instruction should be followed by on-the-job training to ensure employees know the steps to follow for safe chemical use. When assigning a task that requires chemical use to a new employee, shadow them to ensure they follow your operation’s procedures. At a minimum, they should demonstrate they know how to read the label, look up the SDS, and secure the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) before they even begin the task.

New employees are not the only ones who need GHS training. As a best practice, require all employees to re-take the training each year. With the right training and proactive chemical-use policies, you can protect your employees and customers from the dangers of chemical accidents in the workplace.

Online GHS Training

Promote chemical safety and reduce chemical accidents at your business with online training on the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals. Click here for a preview.

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