Posted on: February 22, 2011 Posted by: Diane Swarts Comments: 0

Workplace health and safety management systems should include process design, procurement, data and handling, for exposure prevention. Here is a chemicals safety guide.

Below are reminders of some o these chemicals management elements, that may apply to haz chem management at work, on the road, or at home.

Buy only products required on site, and in the minimum required quantities.

Try to replace highly reactive and hazardous chemicals with substitutes, or try to find alternative processes.

Obtain and display material safety data sheets (MSDS) for each product in use and in storage.

Potentially hazardous workplace or household products include:

• Paints, varnishes, thinners.
• Cleaning agents, like bleach, drain cleaners, laundry detergent, dishwasher tablets.
• Car maintenance products, like brake fluid, oil, petrol, battery acid, antifreeze.
• Recreational supplies, like glue, lighter fluid.
• Gardening products, like pesticides, fertiliser, chlorine, rat poison, insect sprays.
• Medical and toiletry products, like hair colourants, wound disinfectant, medicines.

Chemicals handling hints

Read chemicals labels and product information on containers carefully, for advice on potential hazards, correct use, storage and disposal.

Some chemicals or products should not be stored together due to the risk of adverse reactions. Check the labels for incompatibility information.

Store flammable chemicals away from firelighters, barbeques, and vehicle parking bays, where hot air escapes after parking.

Keep hazards out of reach of children and animals.

Check expiry dates on containers and dispose of expired products in secure containers.

Check containers fork leaks or damage.

Decant chemicals only if necessary, by secure method, into other containers of identical materials. Do not swop containers and do not use containers wherein other products were kept.

Store chemical containers closed, upright, with spaces between, and ventilation around.

Check properties and reagents of chemicals in storage and use. For example, chlorine bleach and ammonia will produce toxic fumes when mixed.

Check temperature stability in storage areas. Corrugated iron roofs get hot in summer. Find alternative storage, or install roof ventilation at the highest points.

Store pesticides, pool chemicals and flammable chemicals outside a house, canteen or general work area, away from food storage and food preparation areas.

Wash your hands well with soap and water or recommended cleansers after using chemicals products.

Maintain haz chemicals awareness

Responsible Care SA manager, Louise Lindeque, comments; “Sometimes people forget that common household products contain hazardous chemicals. Some chemicals are poisonous if inhaled or ingested and can burn or irritate eyes or skin, while others can cause fires or explosions if under pressure or reacting with other substances.

“Raise awareness of chemicals hazards with managers, buyers, users, handlers, stores workers, contractors, and waste handlers.”

Hazchem and toxicology info contacts

* Poisons Information Centre, +27 (0)21 689 5227,

* Tygerberg Pharmacology and Toxicology consultation centre, +27 (0)21 931 6129,

*CAIA Responsible Care,


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