Avoiding Chemical Hazards on the Job: Training is Key

Of all the dangers faced on construction jobs, none are as threatening as toxic chemical exposure. These hazards are not always liquid. They can also be in the form of gasses, vapors, and fumes. So even when workers are not handling chemicals directly, they are still at risk for exposure by simply being in the vicinity where someone else is using them.

When workers are exposed to toxins, it can lead to suffocation, poisoning, burns, internal damage, neurological issues, and cancer. In women, many of these chemicals can make them more prone to having children with birth defects. Some of the effects of toxic chemicals are not felt until years after exposure.

In an industry where chemicals are common, workers need training to learn how to handle, mix, and use chemicals properly.

Training Prevents Disaster

The biggest danger from toxic substances comes when workers are in confined spaces. Small, enclosed spaces limit the amount of oxygen circulating in the room, so chemical fumes are more potent. It also heightens the risk of coming into contact with something that’s spilled or sprayed in the air.

If even one person in the room makes a mistake with the chemicals, it puts the lives of everyone around him at risk. For instance, if a crew member mixes chemicals together and creates a toxic gas, it will not only affect him, but everyone in the vicinity.

Training can teach workers about inherent and induced on-the-job hazards, while giving them the know-how to reduce the dangers. Workshops can be delivered onsite or online by a trainer who is skilled in safety services. Classes can cover anything from wearing required safety gear to proper handling of toxic substances to reacting if chemicals make contact with the body.

The more knowledgeable and aware construction workers are, the better able they are to think on their feet and make decisions that can save lives. When workers understand that they have the power to protect themselves and others from chemical mayhem, it gives them a sense of self-efficacy and they behave more responsibly.

There is always the potential for danger when employees work with chemicals every day. However, the risk of exposure can be reduced when staff members are trained to protect themselves and those around them. In addition to routine training, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has a plenty of available literature on ways employers can improve safety in the workplace.

 

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