Laboratories are not the only workspaces that have to deal with risks associated with chemicals, other industries handling hazardous chemicals including agriculture, manufacturing, construction, transportation, and more. Some of the effects of workers coming in contact with chemicals can be temporary or have lifelong consequences.
From severe chemical burns to corrosion of the skin and skin cancer, protecting the skin is extremely vital to worker’s safety. Coveralls with hoods or other full-body protective suits are often used for body protection, and chemical resistant gloves will protect the arms, hands, and fingers from harmful substances and skin absorption.
A worker’s eyes are also at risk to chemical hazards, and exposure or contact can cause permanent eye damage and even loss of vision. Safety goggles will protect a worker from acids, chemical gases, vapors, and its especially important to keep liquid chemicals for splashing into the eye. Face shields are a good option for especially dangerous chemicals that are at risk for splashing or misting onto the face.
Chemicals can affect what’s inside the body as well. Lungs, organs, and the nervous system are all at risk if hazardous chemicals are inhaled. In these cases, respirators will be required to filter out toxins and provide the wearer with breathable oxygen. It will be important to train employees on the proper care of respirators and for workplaces to have extra filters on hand in case of emergencies.
All hazardous chemicals coming in and out of the facility should be labeled to align with the Globally Harmonized System (GHS). The labels will communicate to the worker the level of risk they are at and what the consequences can be. Along with GHS labels, safety data sheets should be included to recommend the proper handling of these chemicals and what personal protective equipment should be used.