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Safety when dealing with chemicals in the manufacturing process

Using safety when dealing with chemicals is something that should not be taken lightly.Many times we think of chemical safety in terms of that something is always going to happen to the other guy, never to us.Or perhaps we dismiss individual incidents and human error that only hurts the individual who misjudged the situation.However, chemical safety is not just about personal protection; it involves the safety of everyone in the manufacturing plant and surrounding areas.

One such example of the importance of chemical safety can be seen in the event that took place on April 12, 2004.That evening a chemical reactor overheated and released toxic allyl alcohol gas into the air.As a result, 154 people were sent to the hospital and nearby residents were forced to evacuate their homes.Farms and aquatic life that were nearby the chemical manufacturing plant were all killed.Needless to say, this plant and the town it was in will have a renewed dedication to safety when dealing with chemicals in the manufacturing process

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, "hazards in the chemical industry can be substantial, but they generally are avoided through strict safety procedures."In most manufacturing plant chemical processing areas workers are required to have received training regarding the dangers associated with the chemicals being handled as well as to wear protective gear at all times.The push for increased awareness and safety for manufacturing workers who handle chemicals has actually resulting in injury and illness rates that are lower than other segments of the manufacturing industry.Again according to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, "The chemical industry (including pharmaceuticals) reported just 3.4 cases of work-related injury or illness per 100 workers, compared with an average of 6.8 cases for all manufacturing industries in 2003."With training and awareness, precautionary measures really can make a significant difference.

Some of the more innate chemical safety problems that are encountered in the manufacturing industry involve the factors of continually running machines that result in increased interior temperature of many plants.Safety equipment such as hardhats, safety goggles, splash guards, and gloves are mandatory.Body suits with breathing devices or respirators are designed to filter out any harmful fumes.Such equipment is also mandatory for work in dangerous environments where inhalants can affect the function of vital body organs such as the lungs.Pulmonary tests are often required to be performed at regular intervals to ensure that workers are not being harmed by their jobs.Yet even one careless act or mistake can cause serious harm to many people.There is never a moment where you can be too safe.

Manufacturing plant safety is such a task that there are many companies who make a living from evaluating, teaching and raising awareness about safety when dealing with chemicals in the manufacturing process.Such courses that may be worthwhile for your company include:

- Accident Investigation
- Ammonia Awareness
- Cleaning Up Small Chemical Spills
- Environmental Awareness
- Fire Extinguisher Safety
- Lab Safety
- Lockout/Tagout
- Materials Handling and Storing
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasures

Every chemical that you have in your manufacturing plant should have a MSDS (material safety data sheet).The MSDS gives medical professionals the information about the chemicals you use that will be vital in treating you properly if an accident were to occur.If you have more questions regarding the safety of your manufacturing plant contact the Occupational Safety Health Administration (OSHA).They will be able to provide you with specific tools to ensure that you exercise safety when dealing with chemicals in the manufacturing process.

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