Chemicals and the Workplace
The Federal Occupational Safety and Health Act Of 1970 has several requirements most employers must comply with including making and keeping your workplace free from serious recognized hazards - this includes chemicals.
When chemicals are used in the workplace, OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) requires certain information about the chemical be available to everyone in the workplace. This information includes the identity of and hazards associated with the chemical. This OSHA HCS information is known in the workplace as MSDS or Material Safety Data Sheets.
In an emergency, medical personnel use the MSDS information to render appropriate medical aid and also to protect themselves and others from the possible effects of the chemical in question.
When an employee plans to use two or more chemicals at a time the MSDS information will alert the user to potential reactions that could be harmful or dangerous.
It is important to realize that many common substances qualify as chemicals and will fall under OSHA HCS guidelines if they are brought into the workplace. Please consider the following partial list of such substances:
- aerosol sprays of any kind
- air fresheners
- perfumes and colognes
- disinfectant wipes
- kitchen cleaners
- hand sanitizers
Many substances like the above can have a harmful effect on persons, especially those with respiratory problems. Certain substances when mixed together can give off toxic fumes that can cause harm and injury to everyone.
The bottom line is that you should not bring substances into the workplace that might or do qualify as chemicals. If you do need to bring any chemical substances for personal reasons, you should keep them on your person or in a secure place where they are not available to and can not affect other people in your work area. If you do need to bring any chemical like substance into the workplace you should always check with your supervisor first.
We should also be aware that certain first aid supplies like alcohol wipes and iodine can give off fumes and odors if they are leaking. All first aid kits should be checked periodically and old or damaged items should be properly disposed of.
Please help keep your workplace free from chemical hazards.