Every day, workers throughout the U.S. are exposed to hazardous toxins and chemicals on the job. Chemical hazards and toxic substances pose a broad range of health risks, such as carcinogenicity, sensitization, and irritation, and physical hazards, including reactivity, corrosion, and flammability. To secure chemical safety in the workplace, details about the hazards of the toxins and chemicals must be available employees.
Determining the Presence of Workplace Hazardous Chemicals and Toxins
You have the right to work in a healthy and safe workplace, and so do your employees. If hazardous toxins or chemicals are present at your job, the law requires you as the employer to furnish employees with notice about these toxins. Frequently, the report about such toxins is provided in Material Safety Data Sheets. An MSDS is intended to give both employees and emergency workers the precise methods for controlling or working with a particular chemical or toxic substance. MSDSs incorporate information such as spill and leak procedures, personal protective equipment, disposal, storage, reactivity, first aid, health effects, toxicity, and physical data.
Employers may have MSDSs on products that contact hazardous chemicals, as well as MSDSs on specific chemicals. For instance, there could be an MSDS on a particular chemical in addition to one for a product composed of that chemical. Numerous websites are available to supply this information for workers if their employers do not have MSDSs available for their inspection, but it is wise to place MSDSs where necessary.
Another method you can use to notify employees of hazardous chemicals or toxic substances that are present in your workplace is put up warning signs or labels. A dangerous product or chemical will normally have a warning label on the shipping packaging, which gives you the opportunity to post warning signs in areas where toxins are present or with inadequate ventilation.
What to Do If Toxins Are Present in the Workplace
OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard is intended to guarantee employers distribute details to employees about toxic substances and hazardous chemicals in the workplace along with associated protective standards. There are various actions you can take to reduce or prevent exposure to toxins in the workplace. Following is a partial list of options from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Personal Protective Equipment. Wear protective clothing, and use a mask or personal ventilator to reduce exposure to hazardous chemicals and toxins.
- Isolation of danger. Hazardous chemicals and toxic substances are regulated by isolation whenever a limiter or appropriate barrier is located between an individual who may be affected by the risk and the hazard. Several examples include remote-controlled equipment, acoustical containment, glove boxes, electrical insulation, and machine guards.
- Substitution of risk. The risk of illness or injury may be decreased by replacement of existing equipment, material, or process with a similar but less hazardous object.
- Administrative control. Standard operating procedures can be modified to minimize the exposure of chemical hazards to workers. These practices include adjusting work schedules, offering preventive maintenance programs for reducing potential hazardous substances leaks, and limiting access to high hazard areas.
- Ventilation. One or two methods can achieve ventilation of a potentially hazardous airborne substance. The first method requires diluting the substance concentration by mixing it with uncontaminated air. The second approach involves capturing and removing the airborne substance at its point of generation or source.
OHSA requires employers to provide workers with a healthy and safe workplace, and prohibits them from retaliating against employees for exercising their rights under the law.
Ensuring Workplace Safety
Depending on your workplace, exposure to toxic substances and hazardous chemicals could contribute significantly to any health issues of your employees. Make sure you are informing your workers of likely toxins at work for their health and safety. Look for warning labels and packaging, post MSDSs, and if you detect toxins, take preventative measures to minimize or eliminate its exposure.
The content on our website is only meant to provide general information and is not legal advice. We make our best efforts to make sure the information is accurate, but we cannot guarantee it. Do not rely on the content as legal advice. For assistance with legal problems or for a legal inquiry please contact you attorney.