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Industrial Health & Safety Tips – Preventing Chemical Exposure in the Workplace at the Source

industrial exposure to chemicalsEvery week workers get hurt or in the hospital because of an inadvertent exposure to chemicals they had on the job. Common places for workplace exposure can be found in factories, chemical plants, manufacturing, and automotive shops. The following tips are for preventing chemical exposure in the workplace at the source since it’s the most effective way of making sure that your workers aren’t exposed to dangerous chemicals.

Substitute a Safer Chemical or Process.

Many harmful chemicals and processes are repeated out of tradition. In some cases there are better chemicals or better processes that can be introduced to make things safer. EPA’s Safer Choice initiative has a list of safer alternatives for many chemicals used in the workplace. OSHA has a toolkit  that helps employers make the transition to using less harmful chemicals. If there aren’t safer chemicals to use then employers should develop a safer process for handling the chemicals like the following…

  • Flow coating or dipping instead of spraying
  • Water-based caustic or abrasive- or water-blasting for paint-stripping with solvent-based strippers
  • Water-blasting instead of abrasive-blasting
  • Controlling dust with a wet method
  • Steam-cleaning instead of using solvents

Engineering a Better Way to Handle the Chemicals

Developing a new and less dangerous way to handle chemicals without  the need for workers to be directly involved. Some ways to do this would included using a robot to handle the chemicals or having the chemicals handled in a separate room or buildings. Making sure that the airflow can’t get out of the room or enabling certain types of ventilation to get the bad air out of the room safely without contamination other areas. Here are some ways to enclose the handling of chemicals….

  • Splash guards
  • Hoods over machine operations using cutting fluids
  • Use of pumps to handle solvents
  • Fume hoods
  • Use of wet methods to reduce dust and other particles from getting into the air
  • Using glove boxes that have arm-length rubber gloves mounted to the box that keep the chemicals and their fumes in the box.
  • Using isolated booths or rooms.

Administrative and Work Practices Controls

  • Rotating job assignments
  • Restricting access only essential employees
  • Only allow employees spend limited times in isolated areas
  • Perform the tasks during the second or third shifts so less workers can potentially be exposed

Please contact us (859-689-9222 – KY, 513-367-4100 – OH) to get more information about how we can help your business limit the exposure of chemicals to your employees.

FA-Environmental Risk Management-11552About Environmental Risk Management

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Since 1989, Environmental Risk Management has been providing responsive, client focused 1-source turnkey solutions for a wide variety of environmental safety challenges. With our experience and extensive network of diverse internal and external resources, our clients trust us to provide quality Environmental & Safety Services for their businesses.Environmental Risk Management has a main corporate office located in Greater Cincinnati and satellite locations to national accounts.

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