If your company uses hazardous chemicals, you’ll need to mitigate your employees’ exposure to them. Chemicals and toxic substances can create a wide range of health problems, such as irritation, sensitization, and carcinogenicity. They can also cause severe burns—they aren’t something to take lightly.
There are two general categories of companies who face regulations dealing with chemical hazards:
- Chemical manufacturers and importers are required to evaluate the hazards of the chemicals they produce or import and prepare labels and safety data sheets to convey the hazard information to their downstream customers.
- All employers who use or have hazardous chemicals in their workplaces must have labels and safety data sheets for exposed workers and train them to handle the chemicals appropriately. Training for employees also has to include information on the hazards of the chemicals in their work area and the measures to be used to protect themselves.
There are several different ways to mitigate exposure. OSHA outlines 4 main types of control:
- Elimination/Substitution — hazardous chemicals are substituted with safer alternatives.
- Engineering Controls — physical changes to the workplace, such as ventilation and and fume hoods.
- Administrative and Work Practice Controls — Rotating job assignments or adjusting work schedules.
- PPE — Using personal protective equipment.
For more information on requirements and ways to control exposure, check out OSHA’s resources.
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