‘Chemical contamination’ occurs when chemicals are present either where they shouldn’t be, or in stronger concentrations than they should be. Preventing chemical contamination plays a large part in ensuring chemical safety in the workplace, along with safe chemical storage facilities and being aware of the dangers of chemical spills and knowing how to respond.
Contamination not only poses the risk of damage to your workplace materials and tools but it also poses a danger to your environment and your employees health. There are 6 key ways in which you can proactively try to prevent chemical contamination from presenting itself as an issue in the workplace.
One of the easiest ways you can prevent chemicals from contaminating your workplace is by clearly labelling each substance. The labels should ideally include the name of the product, the expiry date and disposal methods, the dangers and clean-up instructions in case of an accident. This prevents the chemicals from being inadvertently used or disposed of incorrectly and encourages safe handling, which largely helps to avoid contamination.
Labeling and signage will always improve the safety of your workplace. Learn how to choose the correct signage for chemical cabinets in this guide.
Spill Trays & Decks
Spill trays and decks prevent leaking or spilled chemicals from travelling across your workspace. The spill trays can fit neatly on your shelves, while spill pallets are ideal for drum storage. They contain any leaks, preventing contamination and ensuring your workspace can be easily cleaned. Ideally, chemicals should not share spill trays or decks with substances they may have a reaction with.
You should explain the measures to be taken when handling chemicals and what to do in the case of a spill or leak with all of your employees. If possible, have these guidelines posted on the walls as a constant reminder. Ensure every employee is clear on the best protocol and what their own particular actions should be in an incident. If an accident does occur, have the involved employees fill out an incident report. This not only helps you analyse the cause, it allows you to put measures in place to ensure it does not happen again.
Drain seals prevent chemicals from entering, and damaging, your drainage system. This not only protects your workspace from contamination, it also protects your local water supply that may be affected by run-off. Furthermore, it allows all chemicals to be removed from your space during clean up, preventing chemical residues from remaining in your drain where they could potentially mix with other substances or emit fumes.
Chemical Storage Cabinets
Chemical storage cabinets are an important consideration for every workplace using chemicals. They ensure your volatile substances are stored securely, without a risk of contamination. They protect chemicals from occurrences that may cause a leak or reaction, as shocks, bumps and temperature changes. Additionally, like a spill deck, bunded chemical storage cabinets help contain any spreading leaks, again decreasing contamination risks.
The correct cleaning materials should be kept in a designated area of the workplace in case a spill or accident occurs. Having them easily accessible ensures clean up is quick and efficient, preventing the chemicals from spreading throughout and contaminating your workplace. This should include safety clothing to wear while cleaning and a spill kit for hazardous waste.
If you’d like to find out more about best practices for securely storing chemicals and preventing contamination in the workplace, read our previous articles or browse our chemical storage cabinet range.