There are certainly parts of culture in which health and safety has gone mad. But in other areas, the risks are often understated. More and more people are realising the long-term effects of exposure to chemicals at work later in life, by which point it’s too late. Cancer and birth defects are a common result of such exposure. Here are a few ways that you can take precautions to prevent chemicals from causing you harm.
Always read the instructions
When handling any new chemical, always read the print on the back of the packaging. A mild cleaning fluid could become toxic when mixed with a certain substance, something you won’t know unless you look on the back. Many companies are required by law to provide safety manuals when dealing with potentially dangerous chemicals. Knowing the symbols and colour coding can help you to know the risks.
Wear protective gear
If a protective gear is available, use it. You won’t need splash goggles and a protective suit for everything, but if such gear is recommended it would be careless not to wear it. Tuck away any hair or hanging items that could become contaminated. In some trades, such procedures are enforced by law, whilst other companies are more lax about it. Don’t be peer pressured into not wearing equipment just because no-one else is.
Recommend a risk assessment
If you feel the precautions put in place at your workplace aren’t good enough, it may be worth recommending your boss to hire a risk assessor to see what further measures can be taken. On occasions, individuals can be allergic to otherwise non-harmful chemicals. In such cases, you may want to do a risk assessment of your own, popular within the cosmetics trade. This usually takes the form of a skin test.
Know your legal rights
If you are harmed by chemicals at work and insufficient warning was put in place, you’re well within your right to seek legal action. Benzene is a chemical that is more commonly being challenged in courts – you can find out information on benzene medical complications and lawsuits here. Companies with offices that still contain asbestos and lead paint are also common targets for legal action – such materials should have eradicated. Don’t be afraid to take on a big company. Most larger companies may in fact be more willing to pay up, as they can afford insurance to cover such incidents as well wanting to protect their public reputation more than a smaller company.
Go on a training course
If you want extra reassurance when using a chemical, it may be beneficial to take a health and safety training course. You may be able to ask your boss to pay for such a course – if they feel it might make their business safer or give it more legal protection, they will probably happily oblige. Some jobs may require you to take a hazardous materials course before getting hired, or to already have a special license.
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