Using Chemicals at Work

Many construction projects may require the use of chemicals. Whether it is as part of the building itself or due to the nature of the premises being erected, they can be a vital part of the process. However, they can also be dangerous and without proper care and supervision, can lead to serious accidents or injuries if they are not looked after in a controlled manner.

From factories and laboratories to shops, offices and home or garden settings, chemicals include everything from cleaning products to building materials. All have different strengths and can affect people in different ways if they come into contact with them. However, even chemicals which are classed as rather harmless need to be handled appropriately.

This is why is it so important for those working on a construction site to have a thorough understanding of the types of chemicals they may be dealing with and the precautions they need to take with each. Some may require the use of protective gloves, others could need more protective clothing to ensure the safety of staff members. Health, Safety and Environment training will be essential, too, as well as effective on-site communication.

Equipment hire services could be particularly useful for construction companies as this will help to ensure they have the necessary tools to complete the job safely and to a high standard.

The Health and Safety Executive notes that although chemicals are part of everyday life, they still need to be considered as something that has the potential to be very dangerous and must be treated with respect.

This guide will aim to give you advice on dealing with chemicals to ensure you and your team are safe at all times and can feel confident they know exactly how to handle them.

If you are an employer

Employers are responsible for ensuring the safety of workers on sites where chemicals are used. The law requires you to control the use of chemicals at work, which requires you to assess the need for chemicals and control and monitor their use.

Identify chemicals

Which chemicals are needed on your site? Once you have identified their need, you need to know the effects they can have on those coming into contact with them.

Asthma, dermatitis and cancer are just some of the side effects of dealing with chemicals in the wrong way. Therefore, you also need to assess the personal protection equipment required when dealing with chemicals, including breathing apparatus and gloves and disposable clothing.

The COSHH website gives users some more information.

Display Safety Data Sheets (SDS)

Chemicals which are classed as 'dangerous to buy' will come with a SDS. A SDS describes the hazards which are possible, and will provide information on handling, storage and emergency measures in case of accident. These should clearly be displayed on site, and all users of the chemical should be made aware of the hazards.

Know the risks

As well as identifying the effects on humans using the chemicals, you need to know the chemical's properties. This includes whether it is toxic, flammable or contains lead. Biocides and pesticides need to be assessed for their potential effect on the environment, too.

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