Chemical Safety in the Workplace

Chemicals are one of the most common types of hazardous substances. A variety of frequently used products contain chemicals, such as cleaning products, pesticides and paint.

Many organisations use some of these substances on a regular basis. As such, it’s important for employers to take necessary precautions to protect employees, contractors and others who may spend time at the premises.

When using chemicals at the workplace, organisations should take the following steps:

  • Store chemicals in a clean, cool and dry location. Do not store heavy containers on high shelves.
  • Keep chemicals in their original containers.
  • Secure storage areas to prevent vulnerable or unauthorised people from gaining access to chemicals.
  • Avoid mixing products that contain chemicals.
  • Do not allow employees to use chemicals if they have not received training on how to do so safely.
  • Never leave chemical products unattended.
  • Keep the workplace well ventilated.

Furthermore, employees should be trained to take the following precautions:

  • Read the labels of chemical products and follow all instructions.
  • Use personal protective equipment.
  • Report any chemical spills, damaged containers or other dangers immediately.
  • When safe to do so, clean up spills immediately.
  • Wash hands thoroughly immediately after working with chemicals.

For many organisations, chemical products are a necessary part of daily operations. However, it’s important that employers and workers do not become complacent or irresponsible.

Chemicals may cause a variety of health problems, including burns, asthma, allergic reactions, dermatitis and cancer. In addition to severe health risks for workers, employers that do not take proper precautions with chemicals may be found to be in violation of the Control of Hazardous Substances to Health Regulations 2002.

 

Contains public sector information published by the HSE and licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.

The content of this publication is of general interest and is not intended to apply to specific circumstances or jurisdiction. It does not purport to be a comprehensive analysis of all matters relevant to its subject matter. The content should not, therefore, be regarded as constituting legal advice and not be relied upon as such. In relation to any particular problem which they may have, readers are advised to seek specific advice from their own legal counsel. Further, the law may have changed since first publication and the reader is cautioned accordingly. © 2021 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved. Provided by TH March.

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