UK aerospace companies are on the hunt for R&D investment to develop sustainable, futuristic technologies. But one aspect of aerospace manufacturing that could use renewal right now is the industry’s chemical risk management programs.
Even with advanced hazard elimination programs, the aerospace industry relies on a supply chain full of hazardous and flammable chemicals that appear at every point in the research, manufacturing, and after-market processes.
Here are three strategies for shoring up your existing chemical safety program and preparing your organisation for the UK’s bright future in aerospace innovation.
1. Go Beyond Safety Data Sheets
Everyone who works with chemicals knows that chemical manufacturers must provide Safety Data Sheets to customers to meet the requirements under the Globally Harmonised System for the Classification and Labelling of Chemicals. Yet, multiple systematic reviews of SDS in the aerospace industry have found that the quality of data provided in these sheets can vary significantly, even in a critical area like aerospace.
Even the SDS in use in your company may have inaccurate and missing information, leaving your workers unknowingly vulnerable to the effects of chemicals.
That’s why it’s so important for the aerospace industry to use SDS provided by suppliers as a starting point, but not as a sole resource. The SDS you receive is the baseline for the investigation into your company’s use of chemicals. It’s important to not only work with the provider but with your environmental and occupational health and safety teams to spot potential patterns of illness that may be due to exposure.
2. Review Human and Organisational Training
With a more robust understanding of the risks associated with chemical use in your organisation, consider reinvigorating your training programs. Aviation and aerospace are already leaders in considering the human and organisational factors of safety, but training programs can go further than they already do in ensuring that every worker understands the scope of the risk as well as risk elimination and mitigation factors.
A combination of e-learning, classroom, and workshop-style training will help bring chemical safety knowledge to life by giving teams access to the proper preparation and application techniques. These sessions will also help you develop operational intelligence in seeing work happen first hand and therefore allowing you to identify rules commonly broken, common errors, and ultimately what defences are most necessary for mitigating chemical risks.
3. Work With Chemical Storage Specialists
Chemical storage is covered by COSHH regulations, but it’s important to remember that regulations are often only minimum requirements for safety. Every facility’s chemical storage plan will be different and must match not only the chemicals but the design of the building itself.
Working with chemical storage specialists to design a customer chemical storage plan can go a long way towards standardising safety not only for chemicals at rest but during dispensing and transfer, where risks can too often turn into accidents. The storage element of your chemical risk management plan will help to shore up your increased knowledge of chemical hazards and serve as a defence for workers, giving them an extra layer of protection on top of their training and PPE.
At Safety Storage Systems, we help aerospace companies across the UK design customer chemical storage facilities. To learn more, reach out to one of our hazardous chemical experts to learn about our experience in facilitating the safe storage of aviation chemicals.