It is not uncommon for small businesses to use various chemicals for their business, including some that are hazardous materials. However, it’s critical to remember the important chemical safety tips for small businesses and educate your employees on proper use of these chemicals. Such hazardous materials used in business like sulfuric acid, ethanol, formaldehyde, or even chemicals in some pesticides, should be handled very carefully. This includes using precaution, handling them safely, posting visible warning, and training your employees on the proper use of toxic chemicals in the workplace.
Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)
Every business, large or small, should have a material safety data sheet (MSDS) even if toxic chemicals aren’t a primary part of your business. The MSDS contains instructions on how to proper handle different types of chemicals, and gives detailed ratings for the level of hazards for each type of chemical, including their reactivity, flammability, and contact rating. You should have an updated MSDS at your business that is posted in a common area, such as the employee break room.
Another important safety tip when dealing with chemicals at your business is having the proper protective equipment. Depending on the nature of your work, this may include a lab coat or more protective item of clothing, like gloves, goggles, respirator mask, or hazmat suit. These items protect your hands, face, and body from chemicals if there is a spill or other type of accident that may cause a reaction of the chemicals and to avoid harming yourself.
Chemical Spill Cleanup
No matter how careful your employees are, chemical spills may happen from time to time. The best way to handle a chemical spill is to prepare for it ahead of time by having all the necessary supplies for cleaning it up quickly and efficiently, such as absorbent silica material, absorbent pads, rubber gloves, and face masks. Only employees who have a clear understanding of the chemical should be handling the chemical spill cleanup. The MSDS should have instructions on cleaning up each type of chemical spill, and if any further special instructions or materials are required.
Chemical Fire Safety
Your employees also need to be trained on chemical fire safety as many toxic chemicals and substances are flammable, which can get out-of-hand very quickly. As long as you have fire extinguishers in the workplace that are easy to access, employees should be able to put out the fire rather quickly. Train employees on how to properly use a fire extinguisher, such as pointing it at the base of the fire, rather than the flame. Depending on the chemicals used in your business, you might want to choose a dry-powder extinguisher.
Proper Response Plan
Another part of preparing for chemical spills or incidents is having a quick response time by employees. Be sure to outline the proper response plan and educate your employees on how to respond quickly and efficiently to accidents or other emergencies involving toxic chemicals. This will avoid further damage, contamination, and personal injury. Proper evacuation is also an important part of the response plan for more serious emergencies.
These chemical safety tips for small businesses will help keep the workplace safe, even when there is a chemical spill or other type of emergency with toxic substances. Every small business should educate employees on the proper response time, use of a fire extinguisher, and which chemicals are dangerous.