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Why You Need Chemical Safety in the Workplace

Posted by EHS Insight Resources on June 19, 2019 at 1:16 PM

Your workplace sees a lot of chemicals pass through, which means you need to keep your employees safe.

It should go without saying that you need chemical safety in the workplace. After all, it keeps your employees safe and healthy and your workplace thriving. But if you’re still fighting your way through building a safety program, here’s why chemical safety has a huge benefit on your workplace.

Avoid Worker Injuries

Above all else, you should prioritize chemical safety in order to avoid worker injuries.

In 2017, 531 workers were fatally injured due to exposure to a harmful substance. Worse, a ten-year study of workplace chemical incidents found that employees are the ones most likely to be injured if a harmful chemical is released and that employees are most likely to be hospitalized out of any group.

As an employer, it’s your responsibility to ensure a safe working environment. If you cannot provide that, you won’t be able to find employees willing to work for you.

Better Hazard Communication

Sometimes, though, all of the best intentions and carefully-laid plans can’t outwit Murphy’s Law. When that happens, you need to be sure that your employees know what to do.

This is where chemical safety comes in handy.

As an employer, you have a responsibility to communicate the presence of hazardous materials in the workplace and how workers should handle them. More than that, when your employees know what they’re dealing with, they’re better equipped to handle an emergency.

A strong hazard communication program gives your employees the tools they need to appropriately control chemical incidents without harm.

To build one, start by training your employees in safe chemical handling. Teach them what to do on a day-to-day basis and how to respond in a crisis. Make sure that all chemicals are labeled and stored properly.

Stronger Emergency Response

When you have strong chemical safety procedures, that doesn’t just translate to the day-to-day. It also translates into a stronger emergency response.

You may not want to think about the worst possible scenario, but if that scenario does occur, you want to minimize the risk to your employees and others. If your employees aren’t trained in chemical safety procedures, how can they safely respond to a crisis?

Let’s say, for example, that there are a chemical spill and splash. If you’re not prepared, that could result in any number of injuries to your employees. An employee who was splashed with chemicals might have serious adverse health effects, and those around them could suffer from chemical exposure.

If you are prepared, your employees could break out first aid supplies and usher their coworkers to an eyewash station. Read this first aid training article for helpful tips.

Meanwhile, other coworkers can begin to clean up the chemical spill using relevant safety data and cleanup instructions on the packaging.

In the first situation, you could face a lawsuit or workers compensation payments. In the second situation, you had an accident that was efficiently handled with minimal harm to your employees.

Which one sounds more appealing?

Improved Employee Morale

All of this translates into stronger employee morale, which is good for your bottom line.

Think of it this way. When your employees know that you’ve taken steps to keep them safe and that you know how to respond in an emergency to keep them safe, they’ll come to work feeling more secure. When employees feel safe, they’re free to focus on their jobs and perform to the highest standard without additional workplace stress.

It’s all part of how a strong safety culture creates a stronger, healthier workplace–and a healthier bottom line.

Topics: Workplace Health and Safety, Chemicals, Safety Culture

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