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Controlled products can be hazardous to your health if you do not limit your exposure to them. As you handle these materials, you’ll need to know whether they are “health hazards” or “safety hazards”.
A health hazard is the ability of a chemical to affect your health quickly (burn) or over a long period of time (cancer or lead poisoning).
A safety hazard is a sudden reaction such as fire, explosion or corrosion. Safety hazards are controlled by handling chemicals properly.
Referring to the MSDS is the safest way to use, handle and store hazardous material.
Hazardous materials in the workplace are classified into three categories:
Biological Hazards are living organisms or its properties that can adversely affect your health. A needle-stick injury is an example of an accidental exposure to possible blood borne pathogens.
Chemical hazards include inhalation of fumes or powders. They also include skin contact from splashes, spills and touch. The MSDS contains safety information on the hazardous components, chemical characteristics and stability of the product and first aid measures.
Never mix chemicals together (such as cleaning products) unless trained and knowledgeable of the compatibility. Always follow label directions and review the MSDS.
Physical hazards are environmental. They include temperature, noise, vibration and radiation.
The most effective way to control exposure to hazardous materials is ‘at the source’ by eliminating, substituting or isolating the hazard.
The second best control is ‘along the path’. This includes the use of controls such as general ventilation, barriers or shields.
The least satisfactory method for controlling a hazard is ‘at the worker’. This includes personal protective equipment, job rotation, and good personal hygiene.
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