What is a chemical risk assessment
A chemical risk assessment involves the identification of chemical hazards in the workplace and recommends controls to reduce exposure and minimize harm to workers. It assesses the transport, storage and handling of hazardous substances so pre-emptive action can be taken to reduce harm.
This article covers: 1) top 5 workplace hazards to spot in a chemical risk assessment; 2) how technology can help streamline chemical risk management; and 3) free chemical risk assessment templates you can use when conducting an inspection.
Click here to download free chemical risk assessment templates.
Top 5 Hazards to Spot in a Chemical Risk Assessment
Here are the top 5 hazards that workplace safety officers need to be aware of when conducting a chemical risk assessment and some tips on how to prevent them.
1. Improper storage of chemicals
Improper storage of hazardous chemicals can lead to explosions, fires, burns and toxic gas releases. Hazardous chemicals must be carefully stored in appropriate containers and locations according to instruction labelling and regulatory requirements.
An August 2018 chemical leak into the Gulf of Mexico was caused by storing 70 gallons of emulsion breaker in a broken tank.
2. Incorrect labeling of containers
Incorrect labeling of containers can also cause explosions, acid burns, and the release of toxic fumes. According to OSHA, all chemical labels should have pictograms, a signal word, hazard and precautionary statements, the product identifier, and supplier identification.
A UC Berkeley researcher experienced acid burns after pouring isopropanol into a container for unwanted or excess chemicals labeled “isopropanol.” It was later discovered that the container had been holding concentrated nitric acid which caused an explosive acid spray.
3. Prolonged exposure to toxic chemicals
Long term exposure to hazardous chemicals can lead to the development of illnesses and some types of cancer. Employers should take the initiative to limit or eliminate their employee’s exposure to toxic chemicals by implementing process changes if possible, and providing protective gear
A nuclear facility worker developed serious lung issues due to being exposed to chemical radiation for over 20 years.
4. Lack of proper training to handle chemicals
The lack of training for workers can lead to chemical injuries. Adequate training must be provided to workers who handle or work around hazardous substances to minimize the risk of injury or illness.
A study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) discovered that more than 12,000 health care workers were often untrained on the hazards of surgical smoke, which can cause both acute and chronic health problems.
5. Poorly maintained equipment
Poorly maintained equipment can malfunction and mishandle chemical substances, or cause flammable chemicals to ignite. Regular equipment maintenance by qualified persons will help reduce the risk of malfunctions.
What is iAuditor and how can I use it for Chemical Risk Assessments?
Using a mobile inspection app like iAuditor can help streamline your chemical risk assessment process. Conduct chemical risk assessments using your phone or tablet, capture photo evidence of identified hazards and alert personnel of follow-up actions. Generate reports instantly on your hand-held device and easily access them online. Get rid of paperwork so you can focus on risk assessment and prevention.
To help you get started, we have created these free chemical risk assessment templates that you can download and customize for your purpose.