Imagine a glass cup sitting on a table. In the glass, it holds a clear liquid. Unknowing of what exactly the clear liquid is, would it be plausible to assume that it is water? Because this liquid has been presented in a container that is commonly used for drinking, is it safe to assume that the content of this cup is safe to drink? The truth is: all that glitters is not gold. Which is to say that, unless we are knowledgeable of the chemicals we work with, it is unsafe to assume that due to its similar appearance to other chemicals, it is safe.
The purpose of hazard communication is to identify the types of solutions being handled on a daily basis. Whether it be in the workplace or at home, knowledge of the chemicals we surround ourselves with is always important. While around everyday products such as cleaning solutions, it becomes easy to grow complacent due to a sense of familiarity. However, this should not be the case when handling chemicals. Results following a misuse of chemicals can lead to a number of hazardous outcomes such as chemical burns, explosions, and death by poison.
Knowing what exactly is being touched or inhaled could be a huge difference between everyday cleaning, and a life and death situation. It is because of this lack of judgment, that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established a set safety standard to be met by every business exposing its employees to such harmful and dangerous chemicals. Though OSHA's concepts are particularly targeted towards the workplace, it is imperative that practicing safety precautions around the house be considered as well.
Consider a situation where one is faced with a busted bottle of liquid cleaning solution. It is important to label every container, especially when transferring from manufacture containers to secondary containers. Drinking bottles (i.e. Water/soda bottles) should never be used as secondary containers. This may appear to be common sense. However, people sometimes replace common sense for convince. The danger comes not only to the person transferring the chemicals, but also the person that comes across the second container, unaware of its contents.
It is also important to consider chemicals
that cannot be stored next to each other, as they easily react with other chemicals. When handling harsher chemicals than your average cleaning solution, it is necessary to acquire the right HAZMAT locker and organize it correctly. HAZMAT lockers are fire resistant, necessary for those chemicals that are flammable.
Storing HAZMAT in a locker that is not fire resistant is dangerous! The chemicals could ignite, block egress routes, and increase difficulty for Firefighters and rescue to do their job.
Bring safety home with you!!! Below are some things you and your family can do at home to make sure that even with chemicals, Safety Happens!
-Make sure gas is stored correctly in gas containers, not in buckets or old paint cans.
-Keep cleaning products used at home separated from storage areas containing food.
-Labeling HAZMAT at home is a great! But should also be supported by training. Make others aware of labels being placed & their meanings.
Get the kids involved! – Consider investing in Stickers (about palm size is recommended for visual awareness). Put them on the cabinets where cleaning materials and other harmful solutions are kept. Explain how the stickers represent places not to be opened by children.