Poison Prevention: Having Your Employees Working with Toxic Chemicals Safely

by Lawton Brothers | Mar 26, 2020

Did you know that harmful chemical exposure leads to long-term health issues, not only for the employee that was exposed but to their family members and friends? These health risks could range from rashes to respiratory problems. 

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), about 32 million employees work with or are exposed to one or more harmful chemicals; currently, there are 650,000 existing chemicals with new ones being introduced frequently. 

As a business owner, a central figure to the safety of your employees, what can you do? At Lawton Brothers, our mission isn’t only to provide you with knowledge about cleaning, but also give you additional education on keeping your employees safe and healthy. That’s why, during Poison Prevention Week, we have put our heads together to write this blog on chemical safety and prevention. 

NATIONAL POISON PREVENTION WEEK 

In 1953, the first poison control center opened, and then in 1961, Congress passed a resolution asking the President to designated the third week in March as Poison Prevention Week. Then, in 1970, President Nixon signed the Poison Prevention Packaging Act, a law that required resistant packaging to be added to prescriptions and household cleaners. 

Now, with all that being said, you may be wondering to yourself, “I’m not worried about poison prevention in my household. I’m worried about it in my business.” 

That is a fair thought, and we’re not here to talk about household chemical poison prevention. However, we do believe that it’s important to make the jump from poison prevention in the household and extend it to the workplace, a common area that an individual frequents, just like their home. 

GENERAL FACTS ABOUT CHEMICAL POISON IN THE WORKPLACE 

According to the International Labor Organization, 2,780,000 workers die from unsafe working conditions, including chemical exposure. According to the EHS Daily Advisor, chemicals have three ways of entering the body:

●      Inhalation of chemicals such as dust, vapors and fibers. Inhaling chemicals this way can cause an individual to have headaches and respiratory issues, which can lead to fatal illnesses

●      Skin or eye contact to chemicals can cause eye damage, allergies and could also potentially enter the bloodstream this way, which could cause organ failure

●      Ingesting chemicals through eating food or drinking liquor can cause long-term health effects. 

Not only can the individual who inhales, experiences skin/eye contact or accidentally ingests harmful chemicals have serious related health issues, but so can their family members. According to a 2017 study conducted by Flavia D’Agostin, Paola de Michieli and Corrado Negro and published in the International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health, found that out of the 1,063 cases they studied of mesothelioma, 35 of those cases were caused by secondary exposure to asbestos. 

CHEMICAL POISON PREVENTION 

As a business owner, it is your duty to protect your workers. OSHA has many protocols and advice on how best to protect employees. At OSHA, they believe in four types of controls, each having different levels of effectiveness, including: 

●      Protective Equipment could include protective chemical clothing, respiratory protection, gloves and eye equipment. This type of control is level effective than the other three controls due to the fact that there is still a chance a chemical could get through the equipment.

●      Chemical Use Workplace Processes could include a couple of different actions including rotating work schedules so that employees aren’t overexposed to chemicals, as well as providing proper training to its employees on handling chemicals.

●      Physically Changing the Process could include utilizing a wet method to limit contact with dust that hosts chemical particles, adding ventilation and fume hoods (depending on the business.)

●      Eliminating Harmful Chemicals is the most effective option for reducing employees’ chemical exposure. This could mean that businesses transition to safer chemical alternatives. 

HOW CAN LAWTON BROTHERS HELP? 

At Lawton Brothers, our goal is to help you find the best and safest chemical cleaning solution for your needs. From sitting down with you to discuss your business and its chemical cleaning uses to walking you through our available products, we believe that our representatives go above and beyond to help you keep your employees safe. 

If you’re looking for safe cleaning chemical options, please give us a call at 800.432.0813. 

Additional Resources & Citations: 

●      Chemical Hazard Communication

●      OSHA Transitioning to Safer Chemicals

●      D'Agostin, F., de Michieli, P., Negro, C. (2017). Pleural mesothelioma in household members of asbestos-exposed workers in Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy. International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health, 30(3), 419-431. https://doi.org/10.13075/ijomeh.1896.00890

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