Employers have a legal responsibility to control the use of chemicals in the workplace. Just as they have a duty of care for their staff members on a construction site, they also need to ensure chemicals are used correctly and safely.

There are several different aspects of chemical safety individuals need to be aware of. The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations are specially designed to offer support and advice to those who use or generate chemicals that could harm people's health. This includes causing diseases such as asthma, dermatitis or cancer.

Another way of gaining information is to look at Safety Data Sheets (SDS). These are used by companies if they purchase a chemical that is classified as being dangerous to supply. SDS go into detail about the potential dangers associated with the chemical, providing those using them with extra information about any hazards. These could be essential when it comes to keeping construction projects as risk-free as possible and safe for all employees. Furthermore, the SDS provide information on storage and handling of chemicals, as well as emergency measures in case of an accident.

Employers also have a duty to protect their employees when working with lead. There are several ways in which this can affect workers' health. The dust, fumes and vapour from lead can result in headaches, stomach problems and anaemia. Further details are included in the Control of Lead at Work Regulations 2002 and construction managers may want to look into these thoroughly if they are working on a project that will involve the use of lead.

Two other situations associated with the use of chemicals site managers need to be aware of are the risks of fire or explosions that could be caused by the chemicals, as well as potential risks associated with biocides and pesticides if they are required for the project.

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