If you work with hazardous materials of any kind in your manufacturing facility, it's important that you take significant steps to protect your employees from the risks inherent to such work. Even a single slip-up or lapse in policy can lead to a disastrous accident, so your efforts on this front need to be highly effective and ongoing to ensure the safest possible working environment.
The following tips should help you do just that:
1) Understand all risks associated with use of any materials
Whether it's a chemical you've used in your production processes for years or a new one you are introducing, managers have to understand all the risks associated with it before asking workers to handle it, according to Redwood. That way, you can be more certain that you'll have all reasonable safety measures in place before actually incorporating it into production.
2) Provide all relevant PPE and make sure it's used properly
Once you know the risks, your next step should be to procure any protective gear that employees will need to wear when working with the materials in question, Redwood said. Moreover, you should train employees on how to wear that PPE as effectively as possible to ensure their safety.
3) Train anyone who will work with (or around) these materials
Speaking of training, if there are any special procedures they must be following when working with or near these materials, you have to teach those to relevant employees before you introduce the materials to your facility, Redwood added. That way, there's no ambiguity about what's required and why.
4) Make sure dangerous materials are stored safely
Every hazardous material has its own requirements for how it should be stored, and these need to be followed to the letter, according to the Clinton Courier. Even one mistake on this front — whether because you didn't invest in the right storage equipment or due to employee error — can create a potentially dangerous situation.
5) Follow proper disposal methods
Likewise, when you are working with hazardous byproducts that need to be disposed of safely, there's no excuse for anyone cutting corners, the Clinton Courier advised. Here, too, train your employees in how to get these materials out of your facility safely.
6) Label all hazardous materials as such, and post signage
Not all employees will necessarily have to work with these materials but they should all know to be aware when they are in use, according to BCcampus. Warning signs and labels are a must-have when it comes to keeping employees safe.
7) Be aware of heat issues
Especially in the summer, temperatures can soar in your manufacturing facility, and you need to be aware of how (or if) that will negatively affect the hazardous materials you keep on hand, BCcampus warned. If so, you need a solution that will keep them at the right temperature — and keep your employees safe.
8) Ensure there is proper ventilation
Most hazardous materials have to be used in well-ventilated areas, and your processes should be designed with this in mind, BCcampus further cautioned. If you don't have a suitable part of the facility for working with them, it will be critical to make proper infrastructure investments.