RISK AND HAZARDS ASSOCIATED WITH CHEMICAL HANDLING AND STORAGE
Hazards with improper Chemical Handling and Storage is one of the biggest concerns for the employee’s safety at workplaces. Everything around us including our body is entirely made up of various chemicals. All the chemicals have ingrained hazardous properties of toxication or explosion.
DEFINITION OF HAZARDOUS CHEMICALS
OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard defines Hazardous Chemical as
“Any chemical which can cause physical or health or environmental hazards”.
Chemicals are able to change physical state (gas, liquid) depending on temperature and pressure. In the gaseous state, they cause health problems if inhaled and cause skin problems in a liquid state.
CATEGORIES OF CHEMICALS
Chemicals such as methanol, ethanol, and kerosene are very flammable and need to be kept away from heat and substances that might cause them to ignite or explode.
Oxidizing chemicals quickly and easily react with other chemicals. They should only be stored with other oxidizing chemicals.
Chemicals such as acids can corrode substances. They can also react vigorously. and explode if they come into contact with other types of chemicals.
TYPES OF CHEMICAL HAZARDS
Mainly there are 3 types of chemical Hazards
- Health Hazards
- Physical or Occupational Hazards
- Environmental Hazards
Types of Health hazardous chemicals:
- Systemic toxins
- Reproductive toxins
- Immune agents
- Dermatologic agents
- Pneumoconiosis agents
Careless exposure or contact to toxic chemicals might cause irritation, skin rashes, a disorder of internal organs like lungs, kidney, liver, or even lead to heart disease, stroke, and high BP.
The above hazards are having the potential of great physical loss at workplaces. Accidents due to chemical hazards toll innumerable financial loss with a reduction of reliability of the company.
The release of toxic chemicals in the environment disturbs the ecological balance and badly affects flora and fauna in the large area. Chemicals in gaseous form in the environment give rise to problems of air pollution, acid rain, monumental corrosion, etc.
A chemical spill in water bodies is a major threat to aquatic/marine life.
COMMONLY USED HAZARDOUS CHEMICALS AT WORKPLACES
- Disinfectants/ chlorine bleach
- Heavy metals( Mercury, lead, cadmium,etc.)
- Pesticides/mold remover
- Petroleum products
MAIN CAUSES OF CHEMICAL ACCIDENTS AT WORKPLACES
Most of the chemical accidents happened due to improper Chemical Handling and Storage.
Handling risky Chemicals by untrained operators might proceed to accidents due to a lack of understanding.
- Use of inappropriate containers for storage.
- Malfunctioning of valves.
- Use of a pressure relief system instead of fully functioning valves.
- Improper handling of containment barriers, bunds, and spill kits.
IMPERFECT SAFETY REVIEW/ ANALYSIS:
Flaws in a perfect chemical safety risk assessment process make workplaces more vulnerable to chemical hazards.
The main cause of major accidents might be not paying attention to minor spills or leakage. Operations are continued without investigating or amending the source of minor leakage causes major incidents.
GUIDELINES TO SAFE HANDLING OF CHEMICALS IN THE WORKPLACE
- Identify the chemicals you use.
- Take an inventory of all chemicals used by the department.
- keep Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) from the companies that supply the chemicals on hand for quick reference in the event of an emergency.
- Label all containers with the following information:
- Name of the chemical.
- The concentration of the chemical.
- Warning about hazards associated with the chemical.
- The manufacturer’s name.
- The date of manufacture (chemicals can degrade over time).
- Follow safe handling instructions and identify personal protective equipment to be used while handling chemicals.
- Read instructions regarding the mixing of chemicals.
- Always wash yourself thoroughly after handling chemicals.
- If chemical spills on you, wash it off at once.
- Don’t eat, drink, or smoke when you’re handling chemicals.
Risk of Hazards can be assuaged by following measures
- Substitution: Substitution with a less hazardous material where possible.
- Ventilation: Well-designed and well-maintained ventilation systems remove toxic vapors, fumes, mists, or airborne dust before workers are exposed.
Some workplaces may need a complete system of hoods and ducts to provide necessary ventilation. Others may require a single exhaust fan.
SAFE STORAGE OF TOXIC CHEMICALS
- The storage area is clearly categorized with warning signs.
- Clear of obstructions, and is accessible only to authorized personnel.
- Containers must be undamaged and are properly labeled.
- Store toxic chemicals in the type of containers recommended by the Safety Personnel.
- Keep the number of toxic chemicals in storage as small as possible.
- Inspect storage areas and containers regularly for any leakage or damaged containers, expired shelf-life or poor housekeeping.
- Correct all paucities as soon as possible.
- Ensure that containers are properly closed.
- Keep empty containers in a separate storage area. They may contain hazardous toxic residue.
- Store containers at a convenient height for handling, below eye level to avoid the risk of dropping containers and the severity of the damage, injury.
- Store material within the temperature recommended range.
- People handling hazardous chemicals are properly trained regarding potential hazards.
- Wear appropriate personal protective equipment to avoid exposure or contact with contaminated equipment/surfaces.
- Be aware of the typical symptoms of poisoning and first aid procedures.
- Report any signs of illness or overexposure immediately to the Safety Personnel.
- Waste toxic material must be disposed of properly. Careless disposal of any hazardous chemical presents a potential hazard to many individuals as well as to the environment.
Read More about Chemical Safety
- Report the problem to the people responsible for handling emergencies.
- Obtain first aid if you have been exposed to the toxic chemicals.
- Only trained people, equipped with the proper tools and protective equipment, should handle the emergency.
- Planning, training, and practicing for emergencies are important so that everyone knows what they must do.
SAFETY PRECAUTIONS AT HOME
At our homes, we use lots of toxic chemicals everywhere Safety tips on chemical handling at home.
- Carefully read ingredients list/ labels/ instructions to use.
- Use proper PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) gloves, goggles, masks, etc,.
- Follow safe and instructed procedures of handling. Don’t take shortcuts.
- While mixing two chemicals follow the procedure and proper proportion.
- Always keep in an approved container and store separately.
- Wash hands thoroughly after use.
Improper handling and storage of hazardous chemicals have given rise to horrifying episodes of the incidents like
“Bhopal Gas Tragedy”
“Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill”
“Persian Gulf Oil Spill”
“Vizag Gas Leakage” Read in details
“Pepcon, Nevada Explosion”
“Falk Corporation Explosion”
and many other frantic incidents all over the world.
FOR THE TOP-LEVEL SAFETY TRAINING, MORE ADVICE ON CHEMICAL HANDLING OR ANY PERSONALIZED INFORMATION GET IN TOUCH WITH US AT INFO@KENEDUCATION.IN