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How to safely handle chemicals in the workplace

Missouri workers know that handling hazardous chemicals can be very dangerous. However, by following a series of basic rules, they and their employers can prevent workplace accidents and stay safe.

First, workers should never cut corners regarding safety procedures. Instead, they should always follow established safety procedures and perform duties the way they were trained. Second, workers should always remain alert and anticipate things that could go wrong while performing certain tasks. They should always wear appropriate personal protective equipment and regularly inspect this equipment for defects or excessive wear.

Workers should also make sure all chemical containers are accurately labeled and carefully read these labels before using a material. Chemicals should only be used for their intended purpose, and workers should never eat, drink or touch their face or eyes while handling them. Once they have finished using a chemical, workers should thoroughly wash their hands with soap and water. When not in use, all chemicals should be stored as the label directs and kept in a cool, dry, ventilated area. Finally, workers should make sure they understand all emergency procedures in the event of a spill or fire.

Workplace chemical exposure can cause a number of serious health conditions, including skin irritations, burns, respiratory problems and even cancer. Workers who suffer a chemical-related injury or illness have the right to file a claim for workers' compensation benefits. If approved, these benefits will pay for medical care and provide wage-replacement payments while a worker recovers. Because these benefits are so important, many workers find it beneficial to seek the guidance of an attorney while preparing their claim.

Source: EHS, "11 Rules for Safe Handling of Hazardous Materials", Chris Kilbourne , Aug. 10, 2018

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