Work practices and the safe use of chemicals can help reduce employee exposure to chemicals. The following are examples of good practices for reducing worker exposures using safe work methods and good hygiene practices.
Safe Use & Work Practices
Whenever possible, chemicals with low boiling points (i.e. organic solvents commonly found in glues/adhesives, primers, inks, thinners cleaners) should be firmly sealed and contained. This reduces chemical loss though evaporation (or volatilization), and reduces the amount of chemicals released into the air. This may be accomplished in the following ways:
- The use of application tools or containers that are covered or have only small openings
- The use of gravity or pressure-fed solvent applicators systems
- Ensuring all chemical containers are closed with appropriate lids or caps
Additionally, in any scenario where workers may come into contact with chemicals during their application, using appropriate application tools (i.e. brushes and applicator bottles are preferred over applying chemicals with rags) should be used to reduce the risk of exposure and the need for PPE.
Good Hygiene Practices
In areas where chemicals are used, it is important to ensure that the proper hygiene facilities are available, and that employees understand the importance of proper hygiene in reducing exposure risks. The following practices should be encouraged at your workplace to reduce the risk of employee exposures:
- Providing separate personal storage areas and ensuring that employees keep personal items, such as food, drink, cosmetics and tobacco, separate from the work environment.
- Providing washing areas with gentle soaps and clean towels, and encourage employees to maintain good personal hygiene by washing hands and exposed areas of skin periodically, especially before breaks, meals, and after shifts.
- In areas where chemicals may contaminate an employees clothes, provide work clothing or coverings (e.g., uniforms or coveralls). Employees should change contaminated work clothing during the work shift, and they should change from contaminated work clothes into street clothes before leaving work.