Creating a variety of protocols to ensure safety.
Many businesses use chemicals in the course of their operations. In some cases, these chemicals are limited to relatively safe and stable substances such as cleaning supplies, for example, that the vast majority of people can utilize without undue risk of harm.
Other operations rely on truly caustic and dangerous chemicals that could cause serious damage to workers and facilities if they are mishandled. In some cases, these chemical might need to be mixed for usage.
Only workers that are trained should be allowed to undertake such tasks. Even with proper instruction, it's still possible that mishaps could occur. As a business owner, you want to do all you can to not only comply with applicable safety laws, but to keep your employees safe from harm and your property free of damage.
This means creating a variety of protocols, procedures, and circumstances designed to ensure safety at every level whenever and wherever chemical mixing occurs. Here are just a few safety measures your business should employ.
1. Proper Ventilation
Dangerous chemicals may produce noxious gases on their own. When you start mixing them together there's also a chance that new toxins could be introduced to the environment in gaseous form. Although it is likely that anyone mixing the chemicals is well aware of the risks and has taken proper precautions to protect themselves (gas masks and other protections, if necessary), it's always best to have a well-ventilated area in which to store and mix chemicals.
2. Wear Proper Safety Gear
Even if workers have mixed specific chemicals dozens of times before, something could always go wrong. Perhaps they accidentally grab the wrong jar, add the wrong amount, or something is mislabeled. These things can happen in a busy operation.
Whether human error is to blame or not, snafus can occur. Workers need to be prepared by wearing personal protective gear provided by the company or purchased on their own.
This could include items as simple as non-slip shoes, gloves, safety glasses, or full face shields, all the way up to gas masks or complete hazmat suits. It's your job to provide needed safety gear for employees and train them to use it appropriately.
3. Check and Double Check Labels
It's not only imperative that employees understand how to properly label chemicals when storing them (including names, dates, and other pertinent information), but that they also exercise caution when moving and mixing chemicals. Labels should be checked and double checked to ensure that the right items are being used for any formula.
4. Engage in Proper Handling and Cleanup
Some chemicals are dangerous even before they are added to mixtures, while others are inert and virtually harmless until you mix them with other substances. Whether the materials you're mixing are considered relatively safe or potentially noxious or highly combustible, just for example, workers need to understand how to handle them properly.
How should they be stored, handled, and mixed? Do they need to be mixed by hand or is the use of drum mixers appropriate? Do they need to be mixed in a specific order? Do certain temperature, moisture, or other environmental specifications need to be met?
Anyone working with and mixing dangerous chemicals needs to be well-trained in appropriate handling procedures, as well as what to do should something go awry.
5. Understand All Safety Procedures and Equipment
When it comes to safety procedures and equipment on hand, OSHA has guidelines you can follow based on the substances being handled in your facility. You can also set your own safety protocols in addition to OSHA standards should you so choose.
Either way, you need to prepare for the worst when employees are mixing chemicals, including the potential for chemicals getting into eyes and mouths, getting on skin, being inhaled, or even starting fires or causing explosions. Workers need to be trained to react accordingly to stop damage, administer care, and save lives in such scenarios.
Safety procedures could range from putting out fires or stopping spills or leakage, to understanding how to flush eyes. Equipment could include chemical sinks or showers, as well as doorway spill barriers, ventilators, and fire extinguishers. Safety is a top priority when mixing chemicals, and employees must not only learn to take all precautions, but react accordingly in emergency situations.