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Conduct a risk assessment of chemicals in your workplace - they're not as obvious as you'd think!

by , 28 February 2013
Biomonitoring California has just released an updated chemical list. This is an attempt to make health and safety hazards in the workplace more obvious, to minimise the risk of incidents. Do you know how to do a risk assessment of chemicals in your workplace? They don't need to be flammable or hazardous to pose a risk to your employees' health and safety! Here's what you need to know...

The European Commission has proposed to better protect workers from risks linked to exposure to chemicals at the workplace.
 
And it's not just the heavy chemicals you need to watch for - hazardous chemical substances are any chemicals present in the workplace that can cause harm to you or the environment, says the Health and Safety Bulletin.
 
This includes dust, and other materials such as paint, fuel, and solvents. It also includes any substance from dishwashing liquids, hand soaps to harmful substances such as caustic soda, chlorine and welding fumes.
 
Do your employees work around hazardous chemical substances?
 
But any substance that can cause anything from mild itchiness and redness, to full blown dermatitis can be classified as a hazardous chemical substance.
 
That's why it's a good idea to conduct a risk assessment to limit the amount of a hazardous chemical substances (HCS) used in the workplace as well as the number of workers who'll be exposed.
 
The Health and Safety Bulletin says that by failing to complete a risk assessment of hazardous chemicals, you run the risk of failing to identify the impacts on your employees' health and safety due to exposure to the chemicals.
 
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.
 
Three steps to conduct a risk assessment whenever you use chemicals in your company
 
You should assess the chemical hazard at three times – before purchasing a chemical for the first time, before using it for the first time, and each time the chemical is going to be used again, suggests the University of Melbourne.
 
This way, you'll 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.
 
Conduct a risk assessment of all chemicals in your workplace today!
 
It's the only way to prepare for any health and safety incidents that may arise from chemicals in the workplace.


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