Category Archives: First Aid Safety

Magnatech Guest Blog Post – Welding Eye Safety

While welding techniques have gradually improved over the years, there are still many risks that come with the job. This includes repeated contact with harmful dust, smoke and fumes as well as exposure to light and heat radiation. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention) states that “each day about 2000 U.S. workers have a job-related eye injury that requires medical treatment. About one third of the injuries are treated in hospital emergency departments.”

There are many severe eye-related injuries that a worker can sustain, including small metallic particles that can strike the eye, leading to painful cuts and abrasions; the CDC reports that “metal slivers, wood chips, dust, and cement chips… nails, staples, or slivers of wood or metal [that] penetrate the eyeball and result in permanent loss of vision. Large objects may also strike the eye/face [and] chemical burns to one or both eyes from splashes of industrial chemicals or cleaning products are common.” Because of such serious wounds, it is essential for a welder to remain as safe as possible while doing their job, regardless of their levels of expertise and competence.

One of the most frequent and all-pervading injuries that a welder may experience given improper eye protection is known as photokeratitis or “welding arc flash.” This is a non-permanent condition, although it may affect your vision for some time given that it damages the tissue around the eye (although thankfully not the retina itself). In this case, the cells on the outer layer of your cornea are inadvertently burned by UV rays. This is similar to sunburn on the skin, but instead on the surface of your eye. Although the affected area will slowly heal over time, UV eye burns may take a great deal of time to recover from and, as you can imagine, they can be wholly excruciating to experience. You can read more about photokeratitis and its effects on the body here.

Welding eye injuries are extremely common and, regardless of whether you are doing a quick 30-second job or a 30-minute task, eye protection is a must. Utilizing a helmet as well as safety glasses or protective goggles is vital to effectively shield your vision. The U.S. Department of Labor OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) states that “goggles or other suitable eye protection shall be used during all gas welding or oxygen cutting operations… All operators and attendants of resistance welding or resistance brazing equipment shall use transparent face shields or goggles, depending on the particular job, to protect their faces or eyes.” PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is also crucial.

PPE clothing should provide adequate coverage in case of sparks, fumes or smoke, as well as reducing the possibility of skin burns. In most cases, clothing manufactured from heavy cotton or a wool blend will better endure the outside elements of your workplace. Flame-resistant gloves and a flame-resistant apron are also essential protective attire. For more details on what you should wear when welding, ANSI (American National Standards Institute) offers some useful advice.

Although there have been notable advances in the manufacture of protective gear over the years, eye injuries are still widespread. This may be due to a low perception of the risk involved in the assignment itself, or perhaps because welders feel discomfort while wearing them. However, the discomfort caused by a serious eye injury will easily outweigh the pain caused from wearing a helmet and goggles for a small period of time. The Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety once estimated that a quarter of welding injuries are eye-related, so eye protection should always be enforced. In essence, it is important that workers are educated about the dangers they will encounter during their day-to-day routine, as well as implementing a “No Excuses” eye protection plan whenever someone is welding. Magnatech, LLC has been manufacturing systems for orbital tube and pipe welding applications for more than 40 years. We are proud to supply products that put an emphasis on reliability and user-friendliness.

If you would like more information on what we can do for you, please visit us online at Magnatech or call 860-653-2573 today.

Guest Post from Jaclyn Passaro

HAVE YOU MADE SAFE TRAVEL PLANS FOR THIS MEMORIAL DAY HOLIDAY?

If you are traveling for this holiday, it is important that you don’t just throw a few things in a suitcase, and head for the sunset!  Make your plans based on safety, no matter how you plan to travel.   

As service stations gear up by hiking their gas prices, airlines may have limited discount flights available, but highway traffic is a nightmare. Prepare for your trip by mapping your route and then using road services, travel associations, the internet, news and any other source you can find to get updates. Remember that traveling at off hours can save you both money and time, not to mention hassle. 

You’d love for your Memorial Day weekend trip to be fantastic with perfect weather, but we all know how Mother Nature loves to mess with vacation plans. Check out a reliable weather resource, and plan to pack the proper clothes. Just because it’s warming up in some areas, there may be need for a sweater for evenings, or other warm clothing for camping. 

You don’t need to have a specific budget, but it’s a good idea to know how much you can afford to spend for the weekend and to have a rough idea of how much your planned adventures will cost. Understanding the price of travel, lodging and activities is a great start. Then you’ll have a better idea of how much to spend on meals and incidentals. (Especially if you plan to frequent a casino, make up your mind how much you can afford to gamble, and if you lose, stop; don’t try to catch up!) 

When driving, leave early enough to arrive at your destination in plenty of time. Remember, you state law enforcement officers will be working extra personnel in order to ensure your safety, by seeing that you don’t speed. Don’t drink and drive, or you could possible wind up with different accommodations than you had planned! Also, don’t text and drive. 

If traveling by car, be sure to notify family members or friends of your planned destination, and when you plan to arrive.  If you find you may be late, be sure to let them know where you are and not to send out the Mounties, that you should be there within a certain time.

Take a survival kit along, just in case: a first-aid kit, plenty of water, some non-perishable foods and snacks, your cell phone, a blanket, and pet food if your four-legged friends are traveling with you. Whether you are flying or driving this holiday, stock up with hand sanitizer, as many surfaces will be shared very often by others; doorknobs, arm rests and trays on planes, gasoline pumps, just about anything you touch while traveling.  There are some ugly bugs that seem to thrive on those who are traveling on planes, trains, or automobiles!  

For this first outing of summer, we wish everyone a safe journey, or if they stay home, a restful day.  Have a fun and safe summer; watch for the kids in the neighborhood because sometimes they forget to watch for you!

SAFETY TIPS FOR A DIY HANDYMAN (GUEST POST)

 

Almost all handyman jobs involve risks and this is why it is important to ensure safety on the service site. Read on for some useful safety tips that’ll help you prevent injuries while working.

Since most handyman services involve lots of hazards, working without the right safety equipment and moving around carelessly can lead to serious injuries. When grinding or welding without goggles, for instance, you’ll obviously end up getting metal particles in your eyes. So, why close the eyes to handy, hi-tech safety measures and equipment when they are easily available and invite plenty of risks!

Here are practical safety tips that are basically lessons learned by our handymen from their mistakes in the past:

1.Pressure Washers Can Peel Your Skin

Pressure washers are the most common handyman tools used to clean up areas like the patio and roof of a building. Since handymen get their attention diverted by a variety of stimuli in the open, they often make the mistake of holding the pressure washer and operating the trigger with only one hand. This can cause the spray wand to move across your hand, peeling the skin off.

It is important that as a professional, you understand and respect the power of water, especially when it is pressurized for cleaning the concrete etc. 

2. Bump-Nailing Can Nail Your Feet

The use of a framing nailer for fastening plywood to joints is a common practice for handymen. But when the nailer is set in bump mode, you need to be fully attentive, for forgetting to pushing the nose of the gun properly against the wood can lead to serious injuries. The worst, you may bump the nose of the gun at the wrong spot such as one of your own feet! Make sure you’ve properly bumped the gun-point on the target area before you pull the trigger. 

3. Safety against Electric Shocks is Important

One of the most important safety steps at a repair site is to check electricity wires using a non-contact tester before laying a hand on them. Commonly, handymen take off the fuse in a hurry and start disconnecting the wires from outlets. There maybe two circuits linked to the outlet, of which you have turned off only one. So, when you touch the wires barehanded, you’ll get knocked back by a powerful shove of electricity shooting up your entire body!

When performing such a job, don’t forget to test and double-check the wires with a tester. 

4. Sheet Metal Can Slice Your Body Parts 

Drilling holes in pieces of metals is another common handyman duty involving a great deal of risk. Handymen are often in a rush and don’t take time to compress the metal to a table etc. This can cause the drill to be caught by the sheet and thrown onto you, creating a deep rip on one of your body parts.

Before you start to drill a hole on a metal sheet, clamp it to a table and adjust your hand and the drill well.

 

Author Bio:

Dan Kogan is the owner of Handyman at your service which is a US based company providing Handyman Services to business owners at an affordable price. Handyman at your service specializing in TV installation NYC, Electrical work, Plumbing NYC, IKEA Assembly NYC and many more.

 

NATIONAL SAFE BOATING WEEK BEGINS MAY 17TH!

It’s the time of year that everyone is ready to get their boats back on the water and have fun fishing, skiing, or taking a relaxing ride on smooth water. Getting boats conditioned after a long winter’s rest is important to the success of the boat starting each time, and running as it should. Having owned a boat, there’s much more to it than just backing it into the water and taking off. The most important thing to have in your boat is a life jacket for each person.

This week’s reminder is sponsored by the National Safe Boating Council.  NSBC was organized in September, 1958, under the name National Safe Boating Committee. Their mission is to be the foremost coalition to advance and promote a safer recreational boating experience through education, outreach and training. The NSBC presently has a membership of over 330 U.S. and Canadian organizations, all with an interest in boating safety and education. The NSBC membership is diverse, with approximately 65% of the membership being nonprofit organizations and 35% being for-profit organizations. 

This year’s theme is “Ready, Set, Wear It,” referring to life jackets. By law, there should a life jacket for each passenger, as mentioned above. At times when you are fishing, and not moving, the jacket may be placed under the seats. But they must be ready for use at a moment’s notice. Wearing a life jacket can be slightly uncomfortable at some times, but even the strongest swimmer could have an accident, falling out of the boat, and possibly hitting their head. With no life jacket, their chances of surviving may be slim. 

When we had our boat, we made sure we had plenty of life jackets, even one for our Cairn Terrier, Willie. He had short little legs, and while we were fishing, he would go to the front of the boat and invariably slip and fall into the water. Our mode of rescue was a dip net, while his jacket kept him afloat. We didn’t want to take the chance that he might not be able to swim very far. 

On one particular outing, the local game warden pulled up to our boat to check our fishing license. He really got a kick out of seeing Willie in his life jacket; he said he hadn’t seen that very often. (This was several years ago, and jackets for dogs are much more popular now.) 

Have a fun summer on the water this year. Remember to use plenty of sunscreen, wear some great sunglasses, (the reflection off water can damage your eyes), wear a hat, keep some soft drinks and water in the ice chest, snacks, and have your cell phone handy in case you get stranded. The same law applies to drivers of boats, as to drivers of vehicles – don’t drink and drive! 

Stay safe and remember, wear that life jacket. After all, that’s what they are for – to save lives!

FIRST AID SAFETY FOR AUSTRALIAN WORKERS: GOVERNMENT EFFORTS (GUEST POST)

The working force spends an average of 40 hours a week in the work place. For many people, that is just the minimum amount of time they allocate for work. The so-called work-life balance is a common struggle of the working force, and oftentimes the physical and mental health is compromised. Health takes a backseat in the list of priorities, but stirs panic when it disrupts productivity and mobility.

                Various studies on corporate health reveal shocking results that link poor health to lapse of judgment in the workplace and consequently, deteriorating performance and productivity. For instance, a loss of $2,280 per worker can be incurred when the said worker suffers from over fatigue. An increase in work hours does not necessarily translate to increased productivity. In fact, sleepiness accounts for 12% of the reason people are tardy in the work place.

                Australia has been highly ranked by the Organisation for Economic and Co-operation and Development as one of the best countries to live in, based on “high levels of income, employment, education and sense of community”. Yet, based on the records preceding paragraph, it is only apt that the Australian government established Safe Work Australia in 2009 to set and implement guidelines that improve corporate health and safety in the workplace.

                Safe Work Australia, in its Code of Practice, has designed guidelines to help management create an efficient system and design of First Aid administration, depending on the specific needs of a workplace. In Regulation 42, it is stated that an entity must consider “the nature of work being carried out in the workplace; the nature of hazards at the workplace; the size, location and nature of the workplace; and the number and composition of the workers at the workplace” when determining the requirements for First Aid in the workplace. It is highly encouraged to look back at records of incidents relating to health and hazard.

                The Australian government has ensured that these guidelines go beyond the provision for basic First Aid facilities. It is stipulated in 3.1 of Safe Work Australia’s guidelines that additional eye pads should be provided in places where welding, splashing of infectious materials, and use of chemical liquids in open containers are conducted. Furthermore, a First Aid room is recommended for “low risk places with 200 workers or more and high risk work places with 100 workers or more”. The training of First Aiders is also stipulated in its Code of Practice. The selection of trained First Aiders is dependent on factors like working shifts, and the increase or decrease of workers.

                The systemization of First Aid administration has prompted companies like Injury Treatment to provide consultation services to various businesses in designing occupational health and First Aid systems. Companies like Injury Treatment emphasize on efficient reporting of hazards and illnesses in the workplace so that the earliest possible intervention can prevent the worsening of any condition that threatens employees’ health and consequently, workplace productivity.

                The Australian government has already laid out basic but very comprehensive guidelines on implementing effective First Aid administration.

Corporate health should be a basic concern of anyone who belongs to the working force. By designing efficient and systematized First Aid procedures, the organization can mitigate unprecedented work-related hazards and ensure the continuity of work flow. 

Author Bio: Cristina Beltran – blogger and writer at 21stcenturynews.com.au.

HOW YOUR BODY REACTS TO STRESS (GUEST POST)

Accidents at work can be frightening and dangerous, but knowing how your body reacts to stress will help you stay calm and take action as needed. While chronic stress can be damaging, temporary stress can help you survive dangerous situations and solve problems, especially if you encounter an emergency at work.

When your body perceives danger or stress it reacts with what is commonly called a fight or flight response. Increased production of hormones like epinephrine and cortisol change the way your body behaves. Here are four things your body does when you are stressed.

1. Extra Glucose is Released

Your body uses sugar as fuel, so in times of stress, cortisol tells your body to release extra sugars and fats for your body to use. If you need to move quickly to dodge a falling object or use every ounce of strength you have to lift a heavy beam off of a coworker, you will need all the extra energy you can access.

2. Heart Rate Increases

An increased heart rate helps circulate the extra sugar so it can get to the parts of the body that need it most. When your heart rate increases, your blood pressure also rises. If you feel your heart racing when you encounter an accident at work, don’t panic. It is a normal reaction.

3. Breathing Becomes Rapid and Airways in Lungs Widen

Along with sugar, your body also needs oxygen to react in dangerous situations. When you are stressed your breathing speeds up and the airways in your lungs widen so you can take in more oxygen.

4. The Immune System Shuts Down

The immune system requires a lot of energy to do its job, so in extremely stressful situations, it shuts down so your body can use that much needed energy to survive. Fighting off a cold is not a top priority if your arm has been sliced open.

These reactions all help you survive in short term dangerous situations. Because of these reactions, your thoughts become sharper, your pupils let in more light to improve vision, and your pain receptors shut down. This means that your body is ready to take whatever action is needed.

According to 911 Industrial Inc., pre-hospital care at the site of the emergency “helps reduce response time, loss of life, and severity of injuries.” While professionals who specialize in industrial safety services are best equipped to handle safety emergencies at work, you can take advantage of your body’s natural reactions to act quickly in emergencies before the professionals arrive.

If a co-worker is in trouble, take advantage of your increased energy and sharper thoughts to seek out help and make quick decisions. If you’ve been injured, try not to panic and remember that your body’s natural reactions are working toward minimizing the damage.

Author Byline

Michael David is a blogger who loves learning new things about science and health.

 

Why Being A Lifeguard Is More Than Just A Name (Guest Post)

We love to think that being a lifeguard is just a name, and it has nothing to do with anything else other than the pool management. But if you think being a lifeguard is all about a teen in high school who is smeared with SPF 30 and stretching out in a chair, and all this lifeguard does is just double-checking on drowning children, you are totally wrong. This is because lifeguard is not just a useless title of a job. It has all the characteristics of being important. It’s a tough job, but yes, someone has to do it. 

So, you’ve finally decided that you want to make a career out of it, and you know you are proud to be called as a lifeguard? The thing is that you have to know that deep inside your heart; this is what you want. That is why we would like to tell you the importance of being a lifeguard. You are not just defending your own safety because every day when you go to work you are expecting the unexpected. That is why it is very crucial for someone who desires to become a lifeguard to go for a lifeguard training. The number one role of a lifeguard is to ensure that every swimmer at pools and public beaches have a safe environment. Lifeguards are advanced swimmers who are trained through swimming programs especially under International Lifeguard Training Program (ILTP). 

If you desire a job where you can make a difference every day and is full of challenges, the first thing you need to do is to apply for a lifeguard training with Jeff Ellis Management or with any other certified swimming programs. You will be trained about anything related to safety and rescue, public beaches and pool management, and your routine role as a lifeguard in monitoring all activities in the water. Other than that, you will also learn that instead of watching people from faraway, you will still need to interact with them by teaching swimming lessons and the safety rules.

Lifeguard1

Lifeguards are trained to be completely calm especially when it involves emergency rescue procedures. They are not just excellent swimmers; they are lifesavers. That is why you can see that whenever there’s an emergency where a swimmer is cramping, fatigued, injured, or at risk for any other unknown reasons, a lifeguard will dive into the water to save the swimmer. In some cases where it takes time for paramedics to arrive, a lifeguard will be the one performing the on-site emergency response. All of these are impossible to be performed if a lifeguard did not go through  lifeguard training. It also take a lot of confidence for a lifeguard to be able to do an evacuation and make a huge announcement should the place of recreation is not safe for public. 

Being a lifeguard is more than just getting the worst tan lines ever, or to smell like chlorine once you get back home. It’s about a commitment toward a responsibility of ensuring one’s life is secured while you’re on duty. If anything happens, you will be asked about it, and that is why getting the proper training will give you an insight of what exactly a public beach or pool management is. Since every day when you go to that same swimming pool or public beach, you get the chance to become the hero of the day. Does it sound interesting to you?

Note: We want to thank Mickey Colon of jeffellismanagement.com for this insight into exactly what it takes to become a lifeguard.  People who choose this profession will not only be working on the beaches, but protecting swimmers in college pools, city pools, and recreational centers.  It takes someone who can pay attention for hours to everything going on in and around the pool.  It does seem glamorous, but it is a very important job.  Knowing CPR and having the appropriate first aid equipment plays a huge part in saving lives.  pb

SEARCHING FOR MUDSLIDE VICTIMS; LATER SEARCHING FOR ANSWERS

The Washington State area devastated by a mudslide Saturday, March 22nd, has seen much clear-cut logging.  Native American tribes and environmentalists have long warned that clear-cut logging could raise the risk of landslides.  Although the mountain ranges of the Pacific Northwest may appear solid and stolid, they are a geologically active part of the physical environment, including regular earthquakes, landslides, and the occasional volcano. Sometimes, human activities – including the clear-cut logging that patch-marks much of the region – have an important impact on forests, soils, and water patterns. 

The massive mudslide that hit  Saturday, March 22,  about 55 miles northeast of Seattle was part of that picture, all but wiping out the community of Oso across the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River.  As rescue and recovery efforts continued Friday morning, officials reported that the number of confirmed dead remains at 17 with another nine bodies located but not yet recovered. Ninety more individuals are still unaccounted for – large numbers in a small community of around 180 people.

The demand for lumber, plywood, paper, and other wood products is part of an industry that once dominated Washington State and Oregon.  Logging’s impact has been a concern for a number of years. Large, older trees take up more water than younger stands, which can take decades to mature and may be cut down before they reach full maturity. The Tulalip Tribes were so concerned with landslides hitting the Stillaguamish River and its prime salmon habitat that they blocked a proposed timber sale above an earlier slide in 1988.”There were some very large clear-cuts planned for that area, which made us very concerned,” Kurt Nelson, a hydrologist with the tribes, told KUOW, the NPR affiliate at the University of Washington in Seattle.  “That reach of the North Fork has multiple, ancient, deep-seated landslides,” Mr. Nelson said. “There’s a lot of unstable terrain in that area.”  Landslides have followed logging in that area at least four times, KUOW reported.

“This had been known at least since the ’50s as one of the more problematic areas on the Stillaguamish for perennial landslides,” Mr. Kennard,  (Geomorphologist Paul Kennard, who worked for the Tulalip Tribes in the 1980s and now works for the National Park Service at Mt. Rainier) reported.  Although state logging regulations have been tightened in recent years, The Seattle Times reports that a clear-cut nine years ago “appears to have strayed into a restricted area that could feed groundwater into the landslide zone that collapsed Saturday.” 

Heavy rains and winds are hampering rescue efforts, by both professional rescue teams and volunteers. The careful use of heavy equipment, helicopters, and other means of rescue continue.  Personnel are wading through debris, muck, trees, ice, and foul water.

 Meanwhile, the request by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) for more federal assistance to help with recovery efforts in the Oso area has been approved. The money will be used to help local and state government agencies recover a portion of the estimated $4.5 million expected to be spent on emergency response, protective measures, and debris removal. Safety precautions should be used by all; pros and volunteers.  Wearing respiratory protection, gloves, goggles, hardhats, and protective clothing is important for the safety of those exposed to all types of hazards.

At his briefing Friday, Snohomish County Fire District Chief Travis Hots asked corporations and businesses in the region to donate money to help those affected. “Some of these people have lost their homes, some have lost their cars, some have lost their entire family,” he said. “Funerals will have to be paid for. Please dig deep.”  Chief Hots is the spokesman for search and recovery efforts.

 

Source: Christian Science Monitor, Associated Press

COMMON INJURIES AND THEIR TREATMENT (GUEST POST)

A large number of Americans are injured every year. While some get injured at home, others get workplace injury. We should have first aid kits both at home and work, and know how to use them.  Here are the most common home and workplace injuries:

Home Injuries Studies reveal that one-third of  total injuries take place at home. Common causes of home injuries are:

  • Falls-a major cause of home injuries and deaths. 
  • Burns and cuts-exposure to pointed objects leads to cuts and wounds. Stoves are the major sourse of burns.
  • Choking and suffocation-major instances of choking and suffocation may be related to food.

Workplace  injuries are also very common. While some injuries are a result of working in unhealthy and unsafe work environments, others happen due to uncomfortable office furniture, poor office layout and improper posture of employees. Here are some of the major workplace injuries:

  • Sprains
  • Strains
  • Tears 
  • Pain,  Bruises and Contusions
  • Cuts, punctures, and lacerations
  • Fracture
  • Multiple Traumatic Injuries
  • Burns
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Amputations
  • Chemical Burns, Corrosions.

How do you treat common injuries? If someone at home or the workplace gets an injury, you must immediately provide first aid to that person to prevent the situation from worsening. In case of bruises, apply heat, massage, and pain relieving cream to treat the injury. To effectively treat abrasions, first clean the wound with water and soap or use alcohol. After that, apply ointment with antibacterial properties on the affected area. For minor cuts, simply clean the area and apply the bandage. For sprains, relieve the pressure off the injured area and apply heat or ice. To alleviate the pain, use an anti inflammatory such as ibuprofen. Ice is the preferred treatment for inflammatory problems.

First aid mistakes to avoid:  When treating home and workplace injuries, make sure that you do not commit the following mistakes:  Applying butter to sooth the pain of a burn, as it can increase the risk of infection.  You must know when to apply a tourniquet to treat bleeding, as it can cause permanent damage to the limbs. Applying heat to sprains, strains, and fracture can increase swelling and slow down the healing process.  Moving someone injured in a car accident away from the scene. If the person has internal injuries, moving him can cause paralysis or death.  Treating allergic reactions caused by bee sting at home. Seek professional help to prevent consequences, such as anaphylactis.

Taking first aid training can help you treat home and workplace injuries quite effectively.  Call a poison control center if you know a child has ingested a poisonous substance.  If you are unsure about treating any injury,  call 9-1-1 for professional help.

This article was submitted by Carol of http://www.adamssafety.com/.  We thank Carol very much for safety information we all can use. pb

THE IMPORTANCE OF UNDERSTANDING CHEMICAL SAFETY

Look around your place of work or your home and you will be surprised by the number of chemicals you will find.  Chemicals that you use at home include gasoline, paints, fertilizers, lawn chemicals, bug spray, paint strippers, kerosene, bleach, other household cleaners, and even hair spray.  We must take care when cleaning to not mix cleaners with bleach, as the combination could cause unsafe fumes. 

Chemicals you may use at work are facility-specific solvents, laboratory chemicals, fuels, paint, office copier chemicals, correction fluid, lubricants and corrosives.  Other examples include toxics, corrosives, and solvents. As long as we understand and practise chemical safety and are provided the proper protection, these substances can be handled safely.

If your work requires you to come into contact with volatile chemicals on a daily basis, it can pose a risk to your long-term health. When new chemicals are approved for use on, in, or by humans, there has usually not been sufficient time allowed to determine whether they pose a long-term health threat. Daily exposure to chemicals has been associated with increased cancer risk, particularly when chemical particles are inhaled or ingested, even in tiny amounts. If your workplace provides on-the-job protection, such as protective suits, goggles, or masks, make sure you use them properly and daily to minimize the risk of chemical exposure.

Regardless of the type of chemicals you are around, there are various ways of being exposed.  (1) Ingestion, such as eating contaminated food; (having lunch in work area with airborne contaminants.)  (2) Inhalation: breathing in dusts, vapors or mists (i.e., mixing bags of concrete, cattle feed or similar chemicals without a respirator, or working in dusty environments. (3) Absorption: skin contact with a chemical affects eyes or can cause dermatitis. (4) Injection: forcing an agent into the body through a needle -needle stick or misuse of drugs.

By all means, protect yourself as much as you can!  Read container labels, material safety data sheets (MSDSs) and safe-work instructions before you handle a chemical; (How many times have you started a project that you didn’t read the instructions until after you failed to figure it out?)  Find eyewash stations before you begin working and know how to use them. 

As mentioned before, use personal protective equipment (PPE) for the task at hand; including chemical-splash goggles, a respirator, safety gloves, apron, steel-toed shoes, safety glasses with side shields, etc. Ensure the PPE fits properly and you are trained in its use.   Look for defects in the PPE such as cracks, missing parts, rips, etc.  Leave your contaminated clothing at work. If you wear the clothes home, you can expose your family to the hazards. (Better yet, wear disposable clothing where applicable.) 

These chemical hazard color codes and numbers on the labels are especially important for you to know: 

  • 1.      Red – Fire Hazard.
  • 2.      Yellow – Reactivity Hazard.
  • 3.      Blue – Health Hazard. 
  • 0 –Minimal Hazard
  • 1 – Slight Hazard
  • 2 – Moderate Hazard
  • 3 – Serious Hazard
  • 4 – Severe Hazard 

Other types of warnings on containers of chemicals include symbols, pictures with words, such as flammable, poisonous, etc.  Information on the white part of the label include National Fire Prevention Association labels – acid, radioactive, corrosive.  Hazardous Materials (HMIS) on the white section of the label recommends the type of personal protective equipment that should be used.  After you have READ labels first, consult the Material Safety Data Sheets if you are still unsure.  Chemical hazards can be very harmful to your body and health, and all those working around you.   If you suspect a chemical spill, call the National Response Center, toll-free, 800-424-8801 and report what you suspect has spilled and approximately how much is spilled.  The NRC also has an online reporting tool on their website.

Last, but not least, washing hands often is of the utmost importance.  Especially while you are working, before and after you eat, and before you leave your work.  Also, keep any chemicals (cleaning products, etc.) out of children’s reach and/or away from your pets.