OIL AND GAS EMPLOYMENT TRAINING - CHEMICAL SAFETY
Safely managing the chemicals in your workplace is good for business and it is good for everyone!
It will improve your employees’ safety and health. It will potentially introduce cost savings, through
more effective work practices such as correct storage, handling, use and disposal procedures.
Potential harm to the environment will also be reduced.
This chemical safety guide is intended for all scale of businesses. In particular, it provides guidance for
completing your chemical risk assessment.
This guide will help you:
Create a complete list of the chemicals in your workplace.
Know where they are located, how much you have, how you are using them and who is
potentially exposed to them.
Know about the risks they pose.
Check whether the necessary controls are in place.
Identify corrective actions to be taken where controls are lacking.
1.1 Chemical safety: Key duties of employers and employees
There are key duties for employers and employees under the relevant health and safety legislation
Employers are required to:
Determine which hazardous substances are present in the workplace.
Assess the risks to employees and others from the presence of these hazardous
Prevent or control exposure to the hazardous substances to as low as is reasonably practicable.
Have arrangements in place to deal with accidents, incidents and emergencies.
Provide information, training and consultation to employees.
Make available health surveillance to employees.
Employees also have duties. They must:
Co-operate with their employer e.g. follow procedures.
Make full and proper use of control measures e.g. using extract ventilation where provided, and report any defects.
Report any defects in plant/ equipment immediately to the employer as appropriate.
Report any accident or incident which may have resulted in the release of a dangerous chemical/substance into the workplace.
1.3Getting started with chemical safety
In most cases you will be able to manage your chemical safety in-house. You will be familiar with the types of chemicals involved and the type of work activities in which these chemicals are used. In addition, your employees will have experience and knowledge that you can use when deciding on the precautions you are going to take.
You will probably already have precautions in place. You are now checking if these are sufficient and if you need to take further steps to protect people. Small or low-risk businesses will find it straight forward to identify their chemical hazards and put in place appropriate control measures. Larger businesses, and particularly those working in high-risk sectors, may need more resources and competency to manage their chemical safety.
It is important to remember - if you are unsure of any aspect of managing chemicals safely in your workplace, you should seek help from a competent person.
This guide is intended to help you complete a risk assessment for the chemicals you use in your workplace. A chemical risk assessment follows the same steps as a risk assessment for
any other hazards in your workplace. There are three basic steps:
Identify the hazard:
This involves identifying the chemicals you have in your workplace and the hazards associated with them.
Assess the risk:
This involves assessing the risk from chemicals or processes in your workplace.
Control the exposure:
This involves considering the various recognized control measures to eliminate or reduce the risk. Identify hazards Assess the risks
Terms you need to know
Here are some terms that relate to chemical risk assessment.
What this means to you
Hazard: A hazard is anything that has the potential to cause harm, in terms of
Injury, ill-health or damage to the environment. For example, working with dangerous chemicals or processes which give rise to dusts or fumes
Risk: Risk is the chance (e.g. high, medium or low) that a person or the environment will be harmed by the hazard. It also considers how severe the harm or ill-health could be.
Likelihood: Likelihood is a measure of how likely it is that an accident or illhealth
could happen. When people are working and managing their chemicals safely there is less chance that an accident or ill-health will occur.
Consequence: Severity is a measure of how serious the injury, ill-health or damage to the environment could be as a consequence of unsafe working with chemicals
Control measure: Control measures are the steps you are going to take to remove
Chemical hazards or at least reduce exposure to a low level.
Safety data sheet (SDS): A safety data sheet (SDS) is a document that must be provided to you with all hazardous chemicals. It provides useful information on the chemical hazards, advice on safe handling, use and storage, and the emergency measures to be followed in case of an accident.
Label: All chemicals should be supplied with a label on the container which clearly identifies the chemical and its hazards.
CAS number: This is a unique identifying number which is assigned to each chemical. Where you encounter more than one chemical or trade name for the same chemical, you can use this number to definitively identify the chemical.
Occupational exposure limit value (OELV): This is a concentration of a chemical in workplace air to which most people can be exposed without experiencing harmful effects.
Chemical inventory: This is a list of all the chemicals you have in your workplace.