Handling Hazardous Materials in the Workplace
Whether you work in healthcare, food service, custodial work, manufacturing, or any workplace where you use a cleaning solution, hazardous materials are always present. When it comes to employees’ health and safety, the handling of such hazardous materials in the workplace is vitally important. Read on to learn how to keep your workplace safe, the hazards of not wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), and helpful resources for finding PPE.
Tips for Safe Handling of Hazardous Materials
To keep yourself and your employees safe from dangerous substances, you should always have resources posted somewhere you can reference easily. Here’s a list of rules to keep in mind:
- Understand the risks and potential hazards that exist in your building. Also, create and post a copy of the safety data sheet (SDS) for all to access.
- Form a plan and train your employees. Individuals can either be your biggest risk or most useful asset for safety, depending on their preparedness. Empowering them to know what to do in emergencies means they can divert a potential disaster.
- Properly store and label hazardous materials. Be sure to follow safety precautions for each item by storing them in the correct containers, keeping lids closed, and cleaning frequently to prevent accidents or exposure.
- Use hazardous materials only for their intended purposes. All materials should be marked with instructions and warnings. Follow them.
- Avoid and discourage eating and drinking near hazardous materials. Never eat or drink while handling them.
- Always, always use personal protective equipment (PPE). For more information on guidelines, visit OSHA’s PPE page.
Consequences of Not Wearing PPE for Hazardous Materials
Have you ever seen the violent warning caricatures on hazardous containers? They’re not just for show. Refusal to wear PPE in the workplace is dangerous to both the individuals who refuse and those around them. In workplaces with hazardous materials, employees without protective equipment might experience:
- Poisoning from inhaling toxic gases
- Chemical burns or skin poisoning
- Difficulty breathing
- Genetic mutations
- Organ failure
- Deformation of body parts
- Birth defects
Yes, in the worst cases, death can be a consequence of not wearing PPE. Not everyone realizes that the effects of hazardous materials on the body are usually not short-term but acute and chronic. If your employees are not wearing PPE in your workplace, they should be. The next time an employee refuses to wear protective equipment, show them the list of conditions above.
Finding PPE for Hazardous Materials
PPE is essential for working with dangerous substances. However, there are so many kinds of PPE, you might have trouble deciding what you need. The simplest way to start is with disposable gloves. Glove materials like nitrile, latex, and neoprene can protect your hands and wrists from solvents, oils, and chemicals. Glove America sells disposable gloves in bulk to ensure that everyone on your team is ready to handle hazardous materials safely. You can also browse our selection of durable work gloves that protect against burns, cuts, and slips.
Other types of PPE that guard against hazardous material include sleeves to cover up the skin on your arms and headgear to keep chemicals from getting into your hair. Goggles and face masks may also be necessary, depending on the severity of the materials you’re working with. With a decent supply of PPE on hand, you can all but guarantee the safe handling of hazardous materials in the workplace.