Various industries in California use dangerous chemicals, and if your employer does not have established safety protocols for the storage of chemicals, you may be at risk of suffering severe consequences. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health have strict regulations, and compliance is vital for the protection of employee health and safety. Furthermore, negligence in the handling of chemicals can be detrimental to the whole community.
There is no doubt about the devastation that chemical accidents can cause to employees and those living in surrounding areas. Cal/OSHA’s specifications list the elements for inclusion in the chemical safety standards of any plan.
Learning about the safety precautions around hazardous chemicals that you can expect your employer to have in place may help to protect you from harm. Although the hazardous chemicals in your workplace may differ from those at other facilities, some basic precautions include the following:
- Proper training— One of the most important responsibilities of your employer is to provide proper training to teach all employees about the chemicals with which they will work, the potential hazards, how to prevent spillages and incidents, and what to do if a spill or other dangerous event should occur.
- Learn basic safety procedures— Regardless of the unique dangers posed by individual chemicals, some precautions are standard. These include never working without appropriate protective gear and always inspecting containers before filling them with chemicals.
- High-quality personal protective equipment — The American National Standards Institute prescribes the quality of safety gear that your employer must provide. Make sure you receive training to teach you the proper way to use it and never go without it.
- Housekeeping— Neatness will enhance safety. Putting away equipment and tools, never leaving random items in aisles and walkways, and other good housekeeping protocols will prevent trips and falls that can cause spillage of hazardous chemicals.
- Ventilation— Keep in mind that certain chemicals can be volatile even in small quantities and low concentration. Insist on proper ventilation and air conditioning that meet the guidelines for the particular area.
- Containment for spillages— It is practical and safe to use containment trays whenever the transferring of chemicals between containers takes place in order to ensure the tray contains even the slightest spillage. Make sure you study the safety instructions for every chemical with which you handle because they may need different types of containers and different storage temperatures. Always make sure containers have no cracks or chips and never substitute other containers for those specified in the instructions.
- Segregate chemicals— The consequences of combining incompatible chemicals can cause explosions, fires or other disasters, so compliance with separate storage where necessary is vital. Designated, segregated areas that keep incompatible products at safe distances from each other work best.
- Spill-response drills— Knowing what to do in emergencies related to toxic chemical spills is as important as preparedness for fires. For that reason, your employer must organize regular drills similar to fire drills to equip every employee with the knowledge of what to do when such a calamity occurs.
While these precautions may not guarantee your safety, they will certainly improve your chances of escaping injury caused by hazardous chemicals. If you should suffer the consequences of a chemical spill, you may find comfort knowing that the California workers’ compensation benefits will cover your medical expenses. If your injuries prevent you from returning to work immediately, the benefits may include a wage-replacement package.