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Are you putting your employees at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning in the workplace?

by , 22 March 2013
A man in the UK has just appeared before magistrates for a breach of health and safety regulations following the death of a guest house resident from carbon monoxide poisoning due to a faulty boiler. This has highlighted the importance of risk assessments concerning gas and chemicals stored and released as byproducts in the workplace. Here's how to conduct a risk assessment of chemicals in the workplace to ensure you comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Ray Iley was found dead at the Albert Guest House in County Durham alongside 20 of his pet budgies, says The Northern Echo.
 
The guest house owner now faces three charges at the Magistrates Court for failing to ensure the boiler at the guest house was maintained in a safe condition – it hadn't been inspected since 2008.
 
If your employees work with chemicals and large machinery on a regular basis, they could face similar health risks from chemical hazards.
 
So if you don't conduct a risk assessment today, you could face the charge for an employee's death, based on breathing in toxic fumes!
 
On top of this, risk assessments are a legal requirement, so you must identify hazards and assess risks in your company to keep your employees safe, says the Health and Safety Advisor.
 
You can't always smell or see the biggest chemical hazards in your company…
 
Chemicals in your workplace don't need to be flammable or hazardous to pose a risk to your employees' health and safety. 
 
For example, carbon monoxide is a fatal colourless and odourless gas, says FSP Business.
 
And if your company uses a generator to ensure there's no production loss due to power cuts, you could be putting your employees at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, says the Health and Safety Advisor.
 
That's why you need to conduct a risk assessment of any chemicals in the workplace to minimise health and safety risks to your employees – whether they're released as a by product or your employees use the chemicals directly.
 
Because by identifying the risks of working with chemicals, you'll be able to take preventative and precautionary measures to minimise or prevent any health and safety hazards that could harm to your employees. 
 
And conducting a risk assessment will also put you in the all-clear with your Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) obligations.
 
Conduct a risk assessment of any chemicals you intend using in your workplace before you even buy them!
 
The University of Melbourne suggests assessing chemical hazards through risk assessment before even purchasing a chemical for the first time, so that you know how to store and handle the chemical, how to clean up any spills or leaks, and the right type of personal protective equipment to be used around the chemical.
 
Have you read the instruction manual of each and every piece of machinery in your workplace?
 
Also read the product manual of all equipment used in your company as part of your risk assessment, so you're aware of any byproducts like harmful chemicals that may be released during their use.
 
It's the only way to properly protect your employees' health and safety around chemical hazards in the workplace!

Find out more about risk assessments and how to conduct them in the your Health and Safety Advisor

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