6 Things to Consider When Storing Chemicals

When you work in an industry that handles chemicals, there are safety precautions that need to be taken. As we’ve discussed previously, having a full spill kit on hand is imperative when dealing with dangerous chemicals. However, the handling of those chemicals is equally as important. In addition to ensuring that you are meeting national and local legal requirements, exercising caution and care while managing chemicals can help protect your employees and your bottom line from the effects of a harmful spill.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

While your company may find that additional requirements will help make your workplaces safer, at least following these 6 tips will help to keep any chemicals and liquids you might be working with contained and safely stored:

  1. Use labels and keep paperwork in order. Chemical manufacturers are required Under OSHA’s Hazard Communication standards to label chemicals in the workplace based on any hazards they might pose. A Material Safety Data Sheet must also be provided for each and every chemical.
  2. Keep inventory. Keeping an updated inventory on any on-site chemicals, as well as any safety information needed for individual chemicals, will help keep track of what is stored in your facility and ensure that your staff knows how best to handle each chemical. An inventory is also needed in the event of a fire or chemical spill where the fire department has to be called. Emergency personnel will need an updated list of the chemicals in the facility to better assess how to handle the situation.
  3. Use a well organized storage system. The best storage method for keeping chemicals is to store them by type. Storing them alphabetically could cause a problem if some of the chemicals are incompatible with each other. Flammables, corrosives, and toxic chemicals are a few types of chemicals that commonly cause problems when stored with other chemicals. Storing by type can prevent any accidental contact that could cause a fire or worse, an explosion. Make sure each chemical family is separated by either a non-combustible partition or at least 20 feet of space.
  4. Use safe storage materials. Any corrosive liquids should be kept in acid containers to ensure that mutually reactive chemicals can’t accidentally come in contact with one another. They should also be kept within secondary corrosive-resistant containers.
  5. Schedule safety checks. Frequently do checkups of any containers or drums of oil and chemicals. Over time, containers or drums could develop leaks. If left unmended these can cause serious damage and possibly result in injury. In the event of a leak, use a drip pan to catch the leaked chemical until the storage unit can be properly mended or replaced entirely.
  6. Create a Chemical Hygiene Plan. A Chemical Hygiene Plan (CHP) is another must for chemical-handling organizations. A CHP is “a written program stating the policies, procedures and responsibilities that protect workers from the health hazards associated with the hazardous chemicals used in that particular workplace.” Keeping a CHP updated and keeping everyone informed on them will prevent an unnecessary injury.

By keeping chemicals safely contained and stored, and making it easy for employees to handle and address them, you can prevent dangerous spills that could cause serious problems. Proper containment is important for preventing dangerous spills which could lead to fires and explosions. The safety of those working in the facility is of the utmost importance, therefore preventing a hazardous emergency should be the priority.

Sources Cited:

OSHA

University of California Berkley

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Eye Injuries And How To Prevent Them

Eye injuries are very common injuries in the workplace. In fact, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports that around 2,000 people are affected by work related eye injuries that need treatment every day in the United States. And out of these 2,000 injuries, more than 100 require at least 1 day of recuperation before an employee is able to go back to work.

This is bad news for a number of reasons. Any work injuries are problematic, as they reflect an unsafe work environment. This is particularly unfortunate when it comes to eye injuries since most, if not all, of them can be avoided. Fortunately, if proper precautions are taken, there are fewer chances for accidents, which will create a safer work environment (and this will ultimately help a company maintain a more profitable bottom line, by keeping workers on the job and out of the hospital).

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has compiled a checklist to follow to ensure the safety of all workers in your facility. All of these checkpoints work towards one final ultimate goal – accident prevention:

  1. Create a safe work environment. Check to make sure there are no hazards in your company’s workspace, such as loose debris, which could fall and get into someone’s eyes. Schedule regular checkups of tools to ensure quality and safety of all equipment used. Also, make sure that all workers handling the machinery are properly educated in the operation of each piece of equipment.
  2. Check for safety hazards. Evaluate your facility for any potential hazards. Also look in the surrounding area at nearby machinery, workers or any falling or shifting debris.
  3. Wear proper eye safety wear. When using any tools or machinery it’s important to have eye and face coverings to protect yourself from any flying material. Be especially sure that you choose the appropriate eye coverings. Your equipment should be comfortable but still snug to prevent anything from sneaking in. If you’re unsure of the fitness of your equipment, consult with OSHA before using it. You should also make sure to clean and disinfect all equipment in between uses. Finally, perform routine checks of the safety equipment to ensure nothing has broken or cracked.
  4. Practice safe technique at work. In the event that there is any debris falling or flying through the air at work, make sure to brush off your head, hat, safety helmet and safety glasses before removing the glasses. Otherwise, debris may fall from your hair or hat into your eyes and cause an injury. Make sure that safety glasses are cleaned in between each use to prevent debris from settling inside the glasses/goggles and entering the eyes once they are put on. Store all safety equipment in a cabinet to prevent debris or dust from accumulating in any glasses or goggles.
  5. Prepare ahead of time. In the event of an accident, workers need to be prepared and educated in the appropriate responses. Additionally, by having an eye washing station on site many eye injuries can be stopped from being permanently damaging.

Accidents can happen, but they can also be prevented. Preparation is the best way to prevent one from happening, but if one does occur it’s important to know how to react to it. By knowing the proper procedure in the event of an emergency you can cut down on the time it takes to correct the problem. Educated workers will know what to do and how to react in an emergency situation so regularly holding training sessions to teach proper procedures keeps everyone informed. It’s important to always wear eye protection when on a job site and it also helps to keep a first aid kit accessible. Encourage workers to take precaution and to always wear eye protection and you can save them from serious injury.

3 Causes Of Back Pain At Work – And How To Prevent It

Persistent back pain can make it impossible to focus when at work. It can also make it impossible to actually complete your tasks. Unfortunately, many industries put a lot of strain on the back, increasing the chances of workers suffering from a range of issues, including minor aches to severe injury. Whether minor or severe, though, back pain is not something anyone wants. Fortunately, there are ways you can avoid it, thereby helping to make your job safer and more enjoyable for you.

 

What causes back pain?

There are many things that can lead to back pain. The most common sources of back pain are:

  • lifting loads that are too heavy
  • lifting loads or items improperly
  • repeating improper movements over and over; by doing movements repetitively, you can cause inflammation to your joints and tendons, contributing to your risk of developing tendonitis or bursitis.

If you think something else is causing your back pain at work, take some time to evaluate that possibility as well. Once you understand what is causing your pain, you can usually easily change your actions or work with your employer to ensure you aren’t inflicting that pain upon yourself.

 

How can you avoid causing pain?

If you find that improper lifting, posture or other bad habits are the cause of your back pain, you can get to work on addressing this issue by doing the following:

Keep your body in good shape. By incorporating strength building exercises into your daily routine, you can train your body to better handle the force of lifting heavy objects. The tricks you pick up at the gym will also come in handy at work. Before lifting an object on the job, you should warm your body up with some stretches. This will increase your flexibility, your range of motion and your ability to lift and carry objects in the moment. These stretches are not only good to perform before strenuous activity, but also after, to help keep your muscles in good form.

Pay attention to your posture before you begin lifting. Bad posture is a common cause of back pain. Keeping your back straight and your head up will prevent you from arching your back which can cause injury. You should also avoid twisting while lifting, which can strain the back. Additionally, ifpossible, start with the object between your feet so that you won’t have to reach in order to lift the object. Finally, always keep the load close to your waist while lifting. This lessens the force placed on your back which lessens the possibility of injury.

Take frequent, short breaks in between activity. Taking short and frequent breaks  is better for your muscles than resting for longer periods of time. This is because your body needs some time to recuperate after lifting heavy things. By giving your muscles more opportunities to recover, you’ll be better able to lift more heavy objects.


While you may think these steps are too much hassle, remember that back pain is a common ailment in every industry, even office workers. That means these tricks are appropriate for any worker, in any industry. By preparing yourself beforehand and exhibiting proper technique, you can prevent serious injuries. (And remember, no matter where you work, the most important thing you can do is to listen to your body. If you notice discomfort, address it immediately to determine what the problem is and fix it before it can cause a serious problem.)

3 Small Things That Make A Big Difference At Work

Springtime is strongly associated with an annual cleaning and clearing out of our homes. But our living area isn’t the only space that deserves a little extra attention. Given that we spend much of our lives in our workspace, it makes sense to give our place of employment a “spring cleaning” lookover, too.

This isn’t just something trendy that you can take part in, either. It’s important to do frequent checkups of your business and suss out any problem areas that need work. When small issue are left unattended, they can grow into bigger issues in the long run. But periodic reviews can keep quality up and prevent larger concerns from seeing the light of day. These are 3 simple things that you can examine during these reviews to upkeep the order in your workplace.

Value Worker Safety

First things first. Start with yourself. Make sure that you are following any and all safety procedures laid out by the company, by the manufacturers of the tools you use, and by overhead organizations such as OSHA. If you demonstrate that you take workplace safety seriously, your colleagues will follow your example. By making it a big deal you can establish that your organization is active in its workers’ safety which will encourage others to follow suit.

Find Ways to Improve Safety Measures

Even if you’re meeting safety requirements, that doesn’t mean you can’t do more to improve safety around your workplace overall. One thing you can do is assess your surroundings by taking a walk around the perimeter of your work floor. Are there things hiding in corners that shouldn’t be? Take a moment to notice obstructions and clutter. When you take notice of these things, your coworkers will take that into consideration and will take note themselves in the future.

You should also spend time with your employees and coworkers to brainstorm solutions to safety concerns. There might be something that you may not have thought of or a problem that you hadn’t noticed. By getting others’ perspectives, you can give yourself a different mindset, which can help you solve safety issues that you might not have even realized were a problem.

Praise Your Team

From a management standpoint, a happy team is a productive one. Take time out of each week or month to meet with the leaders of each team, or with each of the teams as a whole, and get reports on how they are progressing. Give commendation when it is deserved and give advice when it is necessary. Remember: when workers are acknowledged for their hard work, they are more likely to continue the good work in the future.


While you may feel that these 3 things would be a waste of company time, we believe scheduling time to evaluations such as these will save both time and money. When allowed to deteriorate, the state of your organization can easily fall out of tune.  But regularly following these 3 pieces of advice, and taking recurrent reviews of the workspace, you can can often prevent problems that may arise from neglect down the line. Ultimately, it’s much simpler to keep the quality of work high by investing more in it now than later.

On the Job Respiratory Problems: How Can They Be Prevented?

You have to be able to breathe in order to work, right? That’s common sense. The average person breathes in about 2,800 litres of air each workday, more if they are undergoing more physical labor. With so much of your oxygen intake being met at work, the air quality of your workplace is an important aspect of your work environment to consider and keep in mind.

While any workspace can suffer from air quality issues, many common air related problems come with working in construction, factories and warehouses. If there is poor air quality in your workplace, particularly in these three environments, steps need to be taken in order to improve it. While some problems may be harder to address than others, the following three  air quality issues are actually easily preventable if precautions are taken:

1) Allergies

An allergy is defined as “an abnormal reaction of the body to a previously encountered allergen introduced by inhalation, ingestion, injection, or skin contact.” Over 36 million people suffer from allergies in the United States. Individuals who work indoors in offices are usually affected by dust, but those working in factories and warehouses should also be wary of dust mites. Twenty-two million Americans suffer from asthma and that can be easily exacerbated by dust mites.

If your allergies are distracting you from work and making it difficult to concentrate, follow these tips to help clear the air:

  • Dust your workspace frequently. By keeping your station free of dust, you can reduce your risk of being affected by malicious dust particles and dust mites.
  • Are there films of pollen coating the window panes at work? Keep windows and doors closed as much as possible to prevent pollen from infiltrating the building. Use an air filter and regularly clean the filter to counter pollen build up.
  • Mold spores thrive in damp areas. Check often for puddles and immediately mend any leaks found to halt any mold spore intrusions.
  • Consider wearing a face mask when performing any work outdoors during windy days or peak pollen times (between 10 AM and 4 PM).

2) Poor Ventilation

Do you notice a musty smell at work? Do you suffer from symptoms, like headaches or tiredness, that start in the workplace but dissipate once you leave work? Your workplace could have poor ventilation. To address this problem, try doing the following:

  • Regularly change filters on air purifiers and air filters. If an air filter is left to collect too much build-up, it won’t be able to properly do its job. If you regularly clean your workspace you can cut down on the number of times you need to replace your filter.
  • Make sure each fuel burning device is ventilated separately.
  • If allergies aren’t a problem, open windows and let fresh air into the room.

3) Inhalation of Chemicals

Working with and alongside heavy chemicals can cause serious health issues. Chemicals can be inhaled into the body in the form of gases, mists and dusts. Symptoms of chemical inhalation include irritation of the eyes and nose, a cough, or shortness of breath – and in some cases, the ingredients in certain chemicals can contribute to the development of serious health ailments. Follow these steps to prevent inhaling harmful chemicals while at work:

  • Gas masks should be readily available on-site in the event of a chemical spill. All workers should be trained on the proper use and when to use a gas mask.
  • Always use extreme care when handling dangerous chemicals. Remember, the best way to avoid inhalation is to follow safety protocols for the handling and transportation of hazardous substances – and it’s better to be careful and safe than reckless and sorry!
  • Knowledge is power! Be sure to educate workers on the types of chemicals they are working with, as well as about the appropriate ways of handling each one. This will help to prevent any problems or misunderstandings among the people who have been designated to handle chemicals on-site.

These are just three examples of how anyone can begin to address common and likely air quality issues at their place of work. It’s important to remember, however, that while some issues can be handled in-house, other problems may require additional outside assistance before being addressed. Because of this, it’s important for every staff member at a company to be on-board with supporting air quality procedures at their place of work.

Don’t wait for problems to develop before bringing up your concerns with management. And if you feel like there is a problem in your workplace with poor air quality that has not been properly managed until now you should bring it up with your supervisor or with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

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