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. Hazardous chemicals aren’t something to take lightly, so you need to identify ways of controlling chemical exposure.
There are two general categories of companies that face regulations dealing with chemical hazards:
- Chemical manufacturers and importers — These companies are required to evaluate the hazards of the chemicals they produce or import. They must also 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 — These compaies 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.
How to Control Chemical Exposure
There are several different ways of controlling chemical exposure. OSHA outlines 4 main types of control:
- Elimination/Substitution — You can substitute safer chemicals for hazardous ones
- Engineering Controls — You can make physical changes to the workplace, such as ventilation and fume hoods.
- Administrative and Work Practice Controls — You can rotate job assignments or adjust work schedules to ensure no one is exposed to chemicals for extended timeperiods.
- PPE — You can use personal protective equipment.
For more information on requirements and ways to control exposure, check out OSHA’s resources.