There’s nothing more important than everyone’s safety. Here are some ways to ensure your cleaning chemical safety procedures work.
People have spent a lot of time over the last year thinking about safety on the job site in light of the pandemic. However, COVID-19 safety is only one thing to consider. Chemical safety procedures are just as necessary, ensuring that people who use or come into contact with cleaning chemicals don’t face any adverse reactions or results.
Cleaning chemical safety procedures are probably already something you’ve given thought to, but are your procedures good enough to keep everyone safe? Hopefully, the answer is yes, but if you’re not sure, this post is a good place to start.
We’ll talk about different components to chemical safety procedures that you might want to put in place to further protect your employees and clients. This list isn’t exhaustive, but if you want to make sure that your procedures hold up to a high standard, we hope this serves as a good resource to get started.
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How to update your chemical safety procedures so they’re as effective as possible
Communication is key to implementing and maintaining quality cleaning chemical safety procedures. If people don’t know what they’re working with or the risks involved, they’re more likely to accidentally do something that could put people in jeopardy. If you haven’t already, consider developing a thorough written communication plan that outlines the dangers posed by any given janitorial cleaning hazard. It’s also a good idea to make sure that all of your labels clearly state the risks involved with using particular chemicals. Finally, the written hazards communication should also address how to minimize the risks of using cleaning chemicals so workers and clients can take the appropriate steps to keep themselves safe.
Keep safety data sheets
One critical form of written communication, and mandatory on job sites, are safety data sheets (SDS). These must be current and available to all employees for each job they’re on. SDS is part of the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard and document and contains such information as the physical, health, and environmental health hazards; protective measures; and safety precautions for handling, storing, and transporting the chemical. Not having SDS on site can result in a fine of up to $13,685.00 per instance.
Hazard control plans
In addition to safety data sheets, hazard control plans outline what to do in the case of a hazard presenting itself or in the event someone comes into improper contact with a hazardous chemical. A hazard control plan can also outline what not to do, such as smelling or tasting chemicals to identify them or otherwise going outside cleaning chemical safety procedures to figure out what a particular chemical is. If something isn’t listed on a safety data sheet or within a hazard control plan, it should be assumed that the chemical is dangerous and your team should exercise care whenever they handle the chemical.
Use personal protective equipment (PPE)
The use of PPE is critical for any successful cleaning chemical safety procedures and should be top of mind all the time, especially as we continue to battle COVID-19. PPE consists of face coverings, disposable gloves, and eye protection, among other things. Depending on the environment, different types of PPE may be necessary. If you’re dealing with possible COVID-19 exposure, your teams should take extra precautions by using N95 masks, using gloves just once, and washing hands frequently to ensure reduced risk of exposure.
Proper disposal of chemicals
Chemicals in the bottle aren’t the only threat out there. What your teams do with hazardous chemicals once they’re finished with them makes a huge difference in safety. Dispose of hazardous chemicals in accordance with regulatory agency guidelines, such as OSHA, UCDA, and the CDC. Most of the time, chemicals should be discarded in receptacles specially designed to safely dispose dangerous materials. Sometimes that’s a particular sink or perhaps even a biohazard bag, especially if you’re working at a healthcare facility. Rarely should hazardous chemicals be disposed of in a regular sink or onto the ground where they can cause damage to plants and other things in nature that can’t handle the harsh compounds found in most cleaning chemicals.
Identify high hazard chemicals
Some chemicals are more dangerous than others. That should be acknowledged by having a high hazard chemical list that outlines which chemicals are considered high hazard and what to do when using those chemicals. There may be special requirements for PPE or disposal procedures. While all chemicals can be dangerous, it’s imperative that thorough cleaning chemical safety procedures touch on the most hazardous chemicals to avoid any confusion.
Conduct regular training
Even veterans in the cleaning industry can forget how dangerous chemicals can be, or they may not be updated on the most recent guidance around certain chemicals. Conducting regular training sessions will help ensure that your staff members know which chemicals pose the most significant threats and which ones have somewhat lower stakes. Emphasis should still be put on overall chemical safety, even for the less dangerous ones, but taking employees through these training will help ensure that they remember the risks even if they didn’t take the time to read through any written materials you may have provided.
Good chemical safety procedures will also have a section on how to handle emergencies and accidents. Any accident or emergency that can be anticipated should have a written procedure for how employees or clients should respond to the situation. Remind employees that they shouldn’t work alone when they handle simple accidents like spills, which can usually be taken care of without too much trouble as long as employees follow other safety procedures. Employees should also know where to find first-aid kits, eyewash stations, fire extinguishers, emergency phones, and other emergency materials. If employees haven’t been trained on how to use fire extinguishers, that’s another thing you might want to add to your chemical safety procedures since it’s a relatively simple way to avoid potentially catastrophic accidents.
Chemical safety procedures don’t have to be complicated to be effective. Be sure you have a plan in place and you, your team, and your clients will all be better off.
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