Chemicals are sometimes a normal part of a workplace. Many laboratories deal with industrial strength chemicals that must be handled with extreme caution on a daily basis. No matter the amount of industrial safety precautions taken, there is a chance that you or your workers could experience chemical exposure in ways that could be harmful or even deadly. Knowing what to do in the event of chemical exposure in the workplace can not only save your life, but the lives of those working around you.
Knowing the signs of chemical exposure is essential. While many chemicals are easy to recognize as a threat due to strong odors or even visible vapors, there are some that have no taste or smell. These are the worst cases as the only way to tell you’ve been exposed could be from chemical exposure symptoms, some of which are dangerous.
Some of the symptoms associated with chemical exposure are:
- Burning of eyes, throat, nose and skin
- Blurred vision
- Stomach problems
As there are different ways to come in contact with dangerous fumes, there are different ways to deal with prevention. Having adequate air ventilation equipment when appropriate can help avoid any breathing-related difficulties that may arise. There should be a station where employees can wash their skin and flush their eyes in case of contact. Having a designated area for fresh air when most or all of the work is done indoors is also essential. Depending on how the person came into contact with the dangerous chemicals, they may need access to fresh air immediately.
Some general rules to dealing with chemical exposure in the workplace:
- Get to Fresh Air
This is especially important if the person has inhaled dangerous chemical fumes. If there is no immediate or direct route outdoors, open any windows and doors in the area to help ventilate.
- Flush Eyes With Water
There are very serious side-effects and outcomes when chemicals are introduced to the eyes. Be sure that the affected person flushes their eyes and washes any effected skin rigorously.
- Remove Any Effected Clothing
To stop the spread of chemical exposure, it may be necessary to remove any clothing that has come into contact with the chemical. This is also to avoid spreading the chemical to other parts of your skin and to avoid accidentally getting it in your eyes.
- Seek Medical Attention
Always seek professional advice and medical attention when chemical exposure is suspected. This is especially important when there are breathing or sight difficulties. Different chemicals have different potencies, dangers, and side effects. Getting to a medical professional can help discern what complications are serious enough to warrant a hospital stay.
While exposure to hazardous chemicals can be scary, it rarely ends in serious complications when employees are properly trained. There are various types of chemicals that we are exposed to daily. Knowing these few simple steps on chemical hazards and safety can help keep everyone safe and calm in the workplace.