Chemical Safety is achieved by undertaking all activities involving chemicals in such a way as to ensure the safety of human health and the environment. It covers all chemicals, natural and manufactured, and the full range of exposure situations from the natural presence of chemicals in the environment to their extraction or synthesis, industrial production, transport, use, and disposal.

Chemical safety has many scientific and technical components. Among these are toxicology, ecotoxicology, and the process of chemical risk assessment which requires a detailed knowledge of exposure and of biological effects.

Chemicals are part of our daily life. All living and inanimate matter is made up of chemicals and virtually every manufactured product involves the use of chemicals. Many chemicals can, when properly used, significantly contribute to the improvement of our quality of life, health, and well-being. But other chemicals are highly hazardous and can negatively affect our health and environment when improperly managed.

The production and use of chemicals continues to grow worldwide, particularly in developing countries. This is likely to result in greater negative effect on health if sound chemicals management is not ensured. Multisectoral action is urgently needed to protect human health from the harmful effects of improperly managed chemicals.

The World Health Organization summarized scientific evidence and provides risk management recommendations for the 10 chemicals or groups of chemicals of major public health concern:

  • Air pollution
  • Arsenic
  • Asbestos
  • Benzene
  • Cadmium
  • Dioxins and dioxin-like substances
  • Inadequate or excess fluoride
  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Highly Hazardous Pesticides

Safety Strategies

Hazardous chemicals can be managed safely with the use of these strategies:

•  Follow all the established procedures. They are in place to protect you and your co-workers.

•  Make sure all current and new employees are aware of the location of the Safety Data Sheets (SDS). Read the labels and SDS for the chemicals you are handling to ensure you understand how to handle the chemical and what to do in case of an emergency.

•  Properly handle and store all chemicals according to the SDS. Never transfer chemicals into a different container unless it’s necessary. If it is, ensure the new container has the proper label.

•  Always use the proper personal protective equipment for the chemicals you are using such as: goggles, gloves, aprons, and hazard suits.

•  If you are not sure you are wearing your PPE properly, ask your supervisor to check. And if you see a co-worker without PPE who should be using it, stop what you are doing and make sure they put on the PPE.

•  Use chemicals only for their intended purpose. For example, don’t ever use solvents to clean your hands or clothing.

•  Follow proper housekeeping procedures. After using, put chemicals back into storage in their designated place, and ensure the containers are clean and sealed properly so the next employee to use them isn’t exposed to the chemical.

•  Do not eat, smoke, or drink where chemicals are handled, processed or stored.

•  Wash hands carefully before eating, smoking, using the toilet, handling cosmetics, or touching your contact lenses, even if you were wearing PPE when you were handling the chemicals.

•  Do not use any chemical if the label is missing or the cap is damaged.

•  Don’t take any risks, if in doubt ask your supervisor. By taking chemical use and exposure seriously, we can keep ourselves and each other safe.

Spencer-SHE has been providing Safety, Health, and Environmental Compliance Guidance since 1980. Our team can review your overall chemical safety plan and customize it to reduce risk.

Contact us here to help you to develop and maintain a safe and healthy workforce.