In many industrial settings, there are at least some hazardous materials that have to be kept on hand due to their use in manufacturing processes — and of course, this poses a unique risk for workers. As such, you need to adequately prepare everyone for working with or near these materials the likelihood of an accident is kept to an absolute minimum.
That's often more easily said than done, but following through on the tips below will help you get a better handle on this issue:
1) Know which materials present specific risks
You no doubt understand already which materials under your roof are hazardous, but you have to apprise your workers of how they pose risks and what can be done to mitigate each individual one, according to Chemtrec. There's no one-size-fits-all approach to handling hazardous materials so workers need all the right information about how best to keep themselves safe.
2) Train, train, train
Once you've delineated which of these issues apply to each kind of materials, it's important that your workers get the proper training for handling and use, Chemtrec said. Even those who have been through these exercises in the past can always use a refresher; there's no such thing as "too safe" when working with certain materials.
3) Always have a plan
Before anyone actually starts working with these materials, it will be vital that they know what they are being asked to do with them, Chemtrec further advised. It could be as simple as moving them from Point A to Point B, but any work that involves handling hazardous materials should be fully mapped out so everyone knows what's expected.
4) Provide and mandate PPE
Obviously, any time this work is being done, workers need to be adequately protected, and that means you as an employer have to provide the right PPE, according to EHS Daily Advisor. On the other hand, it's vital that workers wear this equipment properly, and comprehensive training will go a long way on this front.
5) Put signs and labels all over
Even your workers who do not work directly with hazardous materials need to know about the risks they may pose, EHS Daily Advisor warned. As such, putting up signage and properly labeling all storage containers will help keep everyone aware.
6) Review proper handling procedures before proceeding
Whether it's a brand-new hire working with these materials for the first time or a long-tenured veteran of your operations, it's important to review proper procedures before actually handling them, according to the Oklahoma Municipal Assurance Group. Here, too, that just keeps everyone on the same page and reduces unnecessary risk.
7) Practice for emergency situations
Finally, even in the sleekest of operations, there may occasionally be an incident with accidental exposure to or spillage of a hazardous material, and your workers must know what to do, OMAG added. A little training and practice for emergency procedures will help keep everyone in your facility safe.