Workplace hazards come in many forms. There are safety hazards, biohazards, chemical hazards, physical hazards, and even ergonomic hazards. But while there are also rules and regulations that help workers handle and manage hazards safely, there are hazards that may be perceived as non-threatening, especially when they’re used in different preparations, which can lead to careless handling. Hazards like these are more likely to cause injuries because workers often have their guard down around them. For example, fumes from hazardous substances, especially when they’re odorless.
When these hazardous substances are present in the workplace, workers are at risk of injuries, illnesses, or diseases. If you’re an employer in a business that handles any hazardous substances, your workers’ safety is also your responsibility. According to www.sadakafirm.com, workers have the right to sue their employers if they get injured from handling hazardous cleaning products, especially if they weren’t provided with proper training and safety equipment.
Here’s a list of common hazardous substances that can cause workplace injuries. If you’re working with any of these, remember to wear protective equipment and practice safe handling.
An industrial chemical that comes in many forms and has plenty of applications, chlorine is particularly harmful in high concentrations. It is reactive, corrosive, and even more dangerous when mixed with ammonia and acids, which creates toxic fumes that can cause a multitude of health issues when inhaled.
Found In: Cleaning solutions, water disinfectants, bleaches.
Common Injuries: Lung damages and irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat.
2. Hydrochloric Acid
Also known as muriatic acid, hydrochloric acid is a highly corrosive substance commonly used to neutralize alkaline substances. It’s also naturally present in both human and animal gastric juices, which help to digest food in the stomach. In higher concentrations, it can cause burns on contact, in both its liquid and gas form.
Found In: Cleaning solutions, dyes, bleaches, fertilizers, pool cleaners, metal treatment solutions
Common Injuries: Chemical burns; skin, eye, and lung irritation
This substance is known for its strong, distinct odor, and is perhaps more known for its use in smelling salts, which is popular among athletes as it helps to increase alertness and focus. It’s also popularly used as a first-aid for fainting, as the nasal irritation it creates causes a spike in breathing that subsequently triggers consciousness. Although safe in small amounts, higher levels can be incredibly toxic
Found In: Cleaning solutions, refrigerants, fertilizers, dyes.
Common Injuries: Burns on skin, eyes, and throat.
4. Sulfuric Acid
Another highly corrosive substance, sulfuric acid is an oily liquid that also has explosive properties in high concentrations. In its pure form, it can melt most metals. It’s also reactive and can become flammable when mixed with water and alcohol, which makes it an explosion hazard. Its diluted form has many applications and is a useful oxidizer and dehydrator for organic compounds.
Found In: Fertilizers, explosives, glue, lead-acid batteries
Common Injuries: Chemical and thermal burns, blindness, irritation of the nose and throat.
Handling Hazardous Substances In The Workplace
These chemicals are commonly used in industrial manufacturing plants and in more concentrated forms. However, they may also be misused in smaller businesses where there’s a lack of knowledge and training when it comes to potentially hazardous substances. For example, a business that has its own team of sanitary workers that use cleaning solutions without proper training. If they use heavy-duty or industrial cleaners without proper protective equipment, they may end up with injuries.
Ultimately, it’s the employer’s responsibility to provide safe working conditions for their employees that may be exposed to these hazardous substances in the workplace to prevent injuries from happening. Such workers should undergo regular training and should be equipped with complete safety equipment.
Before using any chemicals or substances, make sure that proper research is conducted first. Find out how to handle, use, and dispose of the chemicals, including the substances that they should never be combined with. Avoid allowing employees to handle potentially hazardous chemicals when they aren’t trained or are not wearing any protective equipment.
Every business should ensure that they have a safe environment for their employees. When chemicals are used, companies should strictly implement safety measures and protocols to help guarantee workplace safety. When you’re knowledgeable and equipped enough, including your workers, you can keep these otherwise useful chemicals from causing harm. In the end, you won’t only be avoiding potential lawsuits that will cost you a fortune, you’ll also be saving your workers from unfortunate injuries that may cost them their lives.