In July, we ran an article about the hazards of working on propane cylinders and ammonia.One of our readers commented on it and shared about an anhydrous ammonia accident in Memphis that left her nephew injured and “in very bad shape”.

While we have looked into some facts about ammonia, we have yet to discuss some tips on handling chemicals in general. Anyone who works with chemicals knows how toxic, reactive, flammable and explosive they can be.But not every employee tasked to work on them is well informed and trained in managing them.By “work with” I mean to use, store, manufacture, handle or move these harmful chemicals.

Write it down!

First thing’s first. Have a written plan of how you’ll identify and analyze hazards in your workplace. Your plan should indicate how you’ll involve your employees in this process.

Include also in your plan some written procedures that instruct about safe ways in performing tasks involving chemicals.The procedures you’ll develop and implement should be accurate and clearly written. Remember also that you should revise them periodically to make sure that they reflect current operations.

Your documents should also include an emergency plan for your entire worksite. If you’re working in a laboratory, for instance, then you should create an emergency plan for the entire lab. Emergency-escape procedures, employee rescue and medical duties and instructions for employees reporting emergencies are some of the written requirements in your emergency plan.

Wear it!

Part of the right management of harmful chemicals is wearing the proper personal protective equipment (PPE).Equipment vary depending on the type of chemical and length of exposure.Some basic PPE for chemicals are air supplied respirator, full body covering and disposable shoes.

Train them!

There’s no better way to educate your employees in the proper management of chemicals than with training materials.You should keep a record of employees who have undergone initial trainings and refresher trainings.Document these regularly along with training dates and means you used to verify that they understood the trainings.

Another document you should provide your employees with is the MSDS or the Material Safety Data Sheets.With the use of this document, they can learn more about the characteristics of the chemicals they have to work on.They can also refer to it to know or be reminded about the proper PPE and emergency procedures.

From the blog

We've put together a collection of useful tips, articles and guides based on our dealing with safety and compliance on a daily basis. From the latest OSHA changes to seasonal quick tips, we've got you covered. See all blog articles