Last week was Poison Prevention Week, as mentioned in an earlier post regarding March safety observances. We decided to look into this subject more in-depth, as poison is a very life-threatening hazard. Information from the American Association of Poison Control Centers states: “In 2012, America’s 55 poison centers received over 3 million calls. Of those, about 2.2 million were calls about poison exposures ranging from carbon monoxide to snake bites to food poisoning. The rest were calls for information. These prevention tips can help you or your loved ones avoid poisonings. For more tips and information, call your local poison center at 1-800-222-1222.”
Always keep that number handy; you never know when a poisoning accident may happen, and they can answer your questions quickly and refer you to a hospital or doctor if necessary.
Our workplaces contain all types of poisonous materials that workers may become exposed to. Those who work outdoors must be vigilant to watch for venomous snakes. Venomous snakes found in the United States include rattlesnakes, copperheads, cottonmouths/water moccasins, and coral snakes. They can be dangerous to outdoor workers including farmers, foresters, landscapers, groundskeepers, gardeners, painters, roofers, pavers, construction workers, oil field workers, laborers, mechanics, and any other workers who spend time outside. Although rare, some workers with a severe allergy to snake venom may be at risk of death if bitten. It has been estimated that 7,000–8,000 people per year receive venomous bites in the United States, and about 5 of those people die.
The number of deaths would be much higher if people did not seek medical care. It is important for employers to train their workers about their risk of exposure to venomous snakes, how they can prevent and protect themselves from snake bites, certain venomous spider bites, and what they should do if they are bitten.(It is very important to keep the victim calm until they reach a treatment facility.)
Other poisonous hazards in the workplace can be chemicals, cleaning products, carbon monoxide, or lead poisoning. Workers in the following industries could be subject to inhaling lead dust and fumes, or swallow lead dust while eating at break time:
- Radiator, battery, automotive repair;
- Painting, remodeling, or renovating;
- Soldering, cutting metal;
- Bridge construction or repair;
- Making jewelry;
- Demolition of old buildings;
- Foundry and scrap metal operators.
Wearing the correct respiratory protection and leaving your protective clothing at work can prevent bringing the hazardous lead dust home and exposing it to the family.
There are many other types of poisonous substances, from certain energy drinks, to over-the-counter drugs, social drugs, that citizens should take every precaution to not expose themselves, either at work or on free time.
Employees should check their MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) information to ensure they understand what hazardous materials they are dealing with. Exhibiting safety posters is another beneficial way to get your message across. If you have questions, call the number listed above and they can answer your inquiries.
Source: AAPCC, CDC