The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, regulates workplace standards intended to keep workers safe on the job. Does your facility deal with chemicals that could be considered toxic or hazardous? Do you know if you’re keeping your employees safe according to the standards set by OSHA? These dangers can pose a real threat to the safety of your employees and your company overall. Here are a few things you should know about keeping your employees safe from chemical exposure.
What are Chemical Hazards and Toxic Substances?
Chemical hazards and toxic substances are defined by OSHA as those than can cause a wide range of health hazards such as irritation, sensitization, and carcinogenicity. They can also be physical hazards like materials that are flammable, corrosive, or explosive.
What are Allowable Airborne Concentrations?
OSHA understands that, in certain environments, these hazards cannot be completely eliminated. They provide resources for employers to identify and evaluate the hazards that can affect breathing in their workplace. This is referred to as Occupational Exposure Limits or OELs. If you have these materials in your environment, it’s best to review the OSHA safety and health regulations for the specific chemical or hazard.
How Can You Control Chemical Hazard Exposure?
OSHA expects that companies will comply through engineering and work practice controls to reduce exposure to toxic chemicals in the workplace. They require the use of respiratory protection if necessary for the specific work being done or while controls are being implemented. When reviewing these processes for your organization, take time to review OSHA’s guide to controlling exposures.
What Equipment Do You Need for Protection?
In most cases, in terms of respiratory hazards, the most important piece of equipment will be a respirator. There are multiple versions on the market and your specific environment will dictate what you need to use. There may be other equipment you’ll have to have in place as well, such as a spill or clean up kit for certain chemicals or other hazards.