Chemical Hazards

Most chemicals are harmless but chronic illnesses can stem from exposure to certain chemicals. In our new hire training we cover the major OSHA concerns of asbestos, lead and silica, but what about the chemicals we deal with every day? Sealants, adhesives, paints and cleaners can all be sources of hazards. With the new Globally Harmonized System (GHS) it is easier to be aware of what hazards are involved with every chemical.

Just like chemical gases, even though you don’t see any harm, dangers still exist. Therefore, it is critically important to look at the packaging of chemicals for symbols that annotate what dangers are present. On a common Silicone Dissolver, the symbols below will appear on the packaging. They stand for hazards regarding skin corrosion/irritation, single exposure organ toxicity, aspiration toxicity and flammable liquids.

Chemical Hazards
Figure 1: Harmful, Health Hazard, Flammable

At Lee Contracting we utilize Safety Data Sheets (SDS) to inform on-site personnel of hazardous chemicals and how to safely work with them. On the SDS, the appropriate PPE and engineering controls can be found. Also on the SDS, you can find the permissible exposure limit (PEL) and time-weighted average (TWA) to know when a respirator is required or when to change workers.

Chemical Hazard safety

Additional safety tips when working with hazardous materials include:

  • Use non-toxic, non-flammable products whenever possible.
  • When handling hazardous materials:
    • Use the chemical only as directed.
    • Use personal protective equipment as recommended by manufacturers and required by your employer. These could include protective clothing, rubber gloves, goggles and face shields.
    • Be sure you are working in an adequately ventilated area with approved fire protection.
    • Do not perform hot work where flammable chemicals are used or stored.
    • Check that first aid is readily available.
  • Store chemicals in a properly ventilated, locked area and post warning signs.

Our skilled tradespeople are trained since day one to put safety first. We pride ourselves on getting all employees home safe. Learn more about our safety department today.

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