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Protect Workers From Harmful Chemicals

Julie Copeland

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According to Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), chemical hazards andProtect your workers from chemical hazards with proper training and PPE. toxic substances pose a wide range of health hazards to workers (including irritation, sensitization, and carcinogenicity) and physical hazards (such as flammability, corrosion, and reactivity). Read more from OSHA here: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/hazardoustoxicsubstances/

One of the most serious threats facing American workers today is exposure to hazardous chemicals. Chemical hazards and toxic substances pose a wide range of health hazards (such as irritation, sensitization, and carcinogenicity) and physical hazards (such as flammability, corrosion, and reactivity).  

More than 32 million workers (more than 20% of the entire U.S. workforce) are exposed to hazardous chemical products in the workplace. According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), 650,000 different chemicals are present in more than 3 million American workplaces. 

Unexpected releases of toxic, reactive, or flammable liquids and gases in processes involving highly hazardous chemicals have been reported for many years. Incidents continue to occur in various industries that use highly hazardous chemicals which may be toxic, reactive, flammable, or explosive, or may exhibit a combination of these properties. Regardless of the industry that uses these highly hazardous chemicals, there is a potential for an accidental release any time they are not properly controlled. This creates the possibility of disaster. 

Beyond the immediate every day safety concerns with hazardous chemicals, organizations today must also be prepared for the potential of terrorist events. In today’s world, we live with the possibility of a terrorist attack involving toxic industrial chemicals (TICs), or toxic industrial materials (TIMs). These agents can be highly toxic and are produced in large quantities.   

For a list of hazardous chemicals as identified by the Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA), click on this link: https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_id=9761&p_table=standards 

Identifying and Understanding Hazards

Employers must complete a compilation of written process safety information before conducting any process hazard analysis required by the standard. The compilation of written process safety information, completed under the same schedule required for process hazard analyses, will help the employer and the employees involved in operating the process to identify and understand the hazards posed by those processes involving highly hazardous chemicals. Process safety information must include information on the hazards of the highly hazardous chemicals used or produced by the process, information on the technology of the process, and information on the equipment in the process.

Information on the hazards of the highly hazardous chemicals in the process shall consist of at least the following:

  • Toxicity,

  • Permissible exposure limits,

  • Physical data,

  • Reactivity data,

  • Corrosivity data, and

  • Thermal and chemical stability data, and hazardous effects of inadvertent mixing of different materials.

   Information on the technology of the process must include at least the following: 

  • A block flow diagram or simplified process flow diagram,

  • Process chemistry,

  • Maximum intended inventory,

  • Safe upper and lower limits for such items as temperatures, pressures, flows or compositions, and

  • An evaluation of the consequences of deviations, including those affecting the safety and health of employees. 

Where the original technical information no longer exists, such information may be developed in conjunction with the process hazard analysis in sufficient detail to support the analysis. 

Information on the equipment in the process must include the following: 

  • Materials of construction,

  • Piping and instrument diagrams (P&lDs),

  • Electrical classification,

  • Relief system design and design basis,

  • Ventilation system design,

  • Design codes and standards employed,

  • Material and energy balances for processes built after May 26, 1992, and

  • Safety systems (e.g., interlocks, detection or suppression systems). 

The employer shall document that equipment complies with recognized and generally accepted good engineering practices. For existing equipment designed and constructed in accordance with codes, standards, or practices that are no longer in general use, the employer shall determine and document that the equipment is designed, maintained, inspected, tested, and operated in a safe manner. 

The compilation of the above described process safety information provides the basis for identifying and understanding the hazards of a process and is necessary in developing the process hazard analysis and may be necessary for complying with other provisions of PSM such as management of change and incident investigations.   


Facilities using hazardous materials must develop and implement a hazard communication (HAZCOM) program that includes a written plan, employee training, chemical inventory and SDSs. Upon completion of training, workers will understand the Hazard Communication Standard, safety data sheets (SDS), the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) for classification and labeling of chemicals and personal protective equipment requirements. This information includes the new GHS guidelines that OSHA requires on the new label elements (i.e., pictograms, hazard statements, precautionary statements, and signal words) and SDS format. 

Arbill offers a full line of chemical-resistant gloves with a number of different coatings for protection, in addition to Hazard Communication (Hazom) training. Our team of specialists is here to help protect your workers with the right glove and the best PPE options. For more information about making your workplace safer, contact the safety specialists at 800.523.5367 or visit www.arbill.com.

Have a safe day!  

Topics: Chemical Safety/HazMat/Spill Prevention

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