How to identify hazardous chemicals in the work place.

Every organisation should have a list of hazardous chemicals that are used within their facility. A written and documented procedure should also be maintained and updated accordingly with a proper risk assessment on Chemical Safety. A list of all chemicals that are used will eventually serve as an inventory and it will help you to identify all those chemicals for which an MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) must be maintained.

For this the best method is to do a survey in you facility. A detailed review of the purchase records would also help for this process. If a procedure could be made where it stipulates that MSDS of all chemicals should be acquired at the time of purchase itself is a good practice and if possible should be implemented.

When doing the survey several times people will only think about those liquids which are stored in containers as chemicals. But in wide perspective the survey should cover chemicals stored in all physical forms like Vapurs, fumes, liquids, solids, and mists whether they are contained or not. What determines if a chemical has to be covered are confirmed by the hazardous nature and the potential for exposure. If the chemical is not hazardous then it may not be covered.

An example of survey could be :- Take a look around your workplace to identify any chemicals that are stored in containers, pipes etc. You may also want to consider those which generated in other forms like fumes etc. A good example for the same is those fumes which are generated while doing welding, cutting etc. All the chemical supplying company would put a warning label on the container through which you can easily identify the composition of the liquid inside.

Once you complete the survey put all your findings in a list and don’t forget to eliminate those which are not at all hazardous. Then confirm whether you have all the required MSDS for all these listed ones with you or not. Contact the supplier or you can google it as now a days almost all chemicals MSDS are available on internet for easy download. Once you have acquired all the MSDS make a separate file and it should be copied and handed over to the relevant department. Having an MSDS file just inside the Safety Department will not do any good. It has to be communicated to all relevant employees through tool box talks, training’s etc. A risk assessment on chemical safety has to also done using the collected data.

Also regular updating of the same has to be done in order to remove any unused chemicals or any new additions.

Always ensure that you do not allow any employees to use any chemicals for which an MSDS have not be acquired. The MSDS is the only document that would help you to identify the proper protective measures that needs to be implemented on the work site.

NEBOSH International General Certificate is a course offered by Green World Group in which all these relevant details about Chemical handling, Chemical Storage and Safe disposal of chemicals are taught. The course is taught by Green World Group over 25 locations through out the world with highly qualified tutors and with original study materials.

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