Safety precautions to take when handling chemicals

Working in an environment where dangerous chemicals are regularly used requires you to think carefully about your health and safety and others around you. Certain safety precautions must be in place to ensure you remain protected at all times from injury or long term health issues that certain chemicals can induce.

Here are five of the top priority safety precautions to take when handling chemicals.
Take note of these and ensure you remain safe at all times:

  1. Protective gloves should be worn

When handling chemicals, hands are usually the first point of contact and you move liquids around that can be easily spilled. Therefore, protective gloves are a necessary safety precaution to take but be aware that you need the right ones for the job. Latex, nitrile and vinyl gloves are the most commonly used materials but each offer different levels of protection.

Latex gloves, nitrile gloves and vinyl gloves all offer protection from:

Butyl Alcohol, Castor Oil, Chlorine, Citric Acid, Ethylene Glycol, Formaldehyde, Glycerine, Glycerol, Hydrazine, Hydrofluoric Acid, Hydrogen Peroxide, Hydroquinone, Iodine, Isobutyl Alcohol, Lactic Acid, Maleic Acid, Methyl Acohol, Methylamine, Muriatic Acid, Octyl Alcohol, Oxalic Acid, Palmitic Acid, Phenol, Phosphoric Acid, Potassium Hydroxide, Sulfuric Acid, Tannic acid and Triethanolamine.

For specific protection, seek out the information on the packaging of the gloves. This is where you will find a list of what to avoid contact with.

  1. Respiratory protection is necessary

Some chemicals can be particularly harmful if breathed in, which is why masks are a necessary requirement and should be worn at all times. Chlorine gas, Ammonia gas, Carbon Monoxide and pesticides all require users to protect themselves from breathing in their poisonous fumes. Ensure masks are sealed tightly to the face, for men with beards this may require you to shave to ensure a close fit and no exposure to chemicals.

  1. Protect eyes with safety glasses or goggles

Chemical fumes can cause eyes to water and sting but also chemicals in liquid forms could splash into eyes and cause temporary or permanent blindness. Therefore, protective glasses or goggles are necessary to ensure nothing can come into contact with eyes and cause injury.

  1. Good ventilation in the working environment

Ventilation is key when working in an environment dealing with harsh or dangerous chemicals. It ensures that there is air movement and that vapours or fumes are released to disperse. Open windows are an easy way to implement this safety precaution but for work involving large amounts of chemicals a fan system may be necessary to ensure you are protected. Local Exhaust Ventilation is the most common form of ventilation that workplaces install. Ask your employer if they can have this installed to improve the environment.

  1. Good hygiene practices are important

Working with chemicals and solvents can leave them on your skin and clothes. Therefore, once you have finished working it is a good idea to change your clothes and wash thoroughly, cleaning hands and any skin that may be exposed.

Follow these simple safety precautions when working with chemicals and ensure you are protected at all times.