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Be Proactive to Prevent Workplace Chemical Exposure

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May 23, 2014

Dangerous chemicals are present in a number of jobs throughout the U.S., especially in high-risk industries such as manufacturing, construction and health care. Exposure can lead to many health problems, including higher workers compensation insurance costs.

Because of the dangers, employers should make hazardous chemical risk management a priority. A lack of a proactive approach can leave many employees in danger, which doesn't bode well for the safety and security of the company. In order to achieve this goal, here are a few tips and tricks to prevent exposure in the workplace.

Create an evacuation plan
Chemical exposure can take place via inhalation, digestion or through the skin, according to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Depending on the materials, adverse effects could begin to materialize quickly, which means a proper risk management plan is vital for the overall safety of the company.

One key part should be an evacuation strategy, OSHA noted. Workers who are exposed should try to leave the area immediately, to further prevent additional damage and receive rapid treatment. Therefore, employers must have a plan in place that covers the protocols in this event. In addition, adequate protective gear should be worn at all times when handling dangerous chemicals. This includes specially designed suits and respiratory protection. If contamination occurs, clothing should be removed in a safe location and skin should be washed promptly. 

Use experience to improve safety
Across the country, many employers deal with chemical hazards on a daily basis. These companies often have proper proactive measures in place, and these steps could be used as a guide for other firms to adapt their own risk management strategies.

According to the University of California, Berkeley, learning from experience can be a great way to prevent chemical exposure in the workplace. For example, state and local organizations tend to have solutions in place regarding employee health that could prove educational. Moreover, employers can train all staff members to be aware of these hazards and understand what can be done to avoid the dangers. In some cases, using alternative chemicals is a safer option, or switching up the work processes to further reduce risk.

Overall, a proactive approach and a comprehensive knowledge of chemical hazards can be a fantastic way for employers to decrease the likelihood of worker exposure to dangerous chemicals. As a result, there could be a decline in workers compensation insurance costs and other expenses.

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