Protecting Workers from Chemical Hazards

Amy Hawthorne

by Amy Hawthorne

6th November 2014

Chemical hazard; “A real or potential condition in a chemical environment that can cause injury or illness to a person, or negatively affect the environment.”

We understand the importance of managing workers’ exposure to chemical hazards and we prefer to minimise hazards before they become a threat and cause harm. We do this through proper training and sufficient health and safety facilities on site.

By educating staff on the importance of working responsibly with hazardous substances and putting the necessary procedures in place, we can reduce the threat that a chemical environment can present.

There are organisations set up to enforce regulations which aim to protect workers in hazardous environments. Unfortunately, some developing countries don’t yet have the same regulations and this can mean that being exposed to chemical hazards in industrial settings is a daily occurrence here.

Training is key to avoiding chemical hazards


Safety showers are installed across the ReAgent factory as a first aid measure

The exposure to toxic chemicals in construction work is the most dangerous hazard faced by workers. Being exposed to toxic chemicals without the proper protection can lead to a number of health complications; suffocation, burns, respiratory issues and lung problems.

It is for these reasons that companies need to ensure their staff receive extensive training in minimising chemical hazards and looking after their own health and safety on a day-to-day basis.

For the occasions when workers do come into contact with toxic chemicals (whether this be ingestion, inhalation or skin contact) we have equipment such as safety showers and first aid boxes available.

However, we would prefer to minimise the need for first aid by reducing chemical hazards in the first place.

This risk of exposure can be reduced with the correct training. A huge danger arises when workers are not dealing with chemicals in well-ventilated areas, so we ensure our staff are knowledgeable in the best way to carry out chemical processes for each job they do.

We also try and reduce the chance of accident or injury by aiming to integrate risk analysis in the early stages of planning a procedure.

We carry out training in proper manual handling, respiratory training and measuring noise levels to minimise risks and keep a direct ongoing focus on health and safety.

In specific cases, we need to bear in mind Workplace Exposure Limits. Workers will wear a badge that monitors their exposure to a certain chemical over time periods of either 15 minutes or an 8-hour day. Exposure will then be logged in a computer for health reasons.

Chemical hazards in developing countries

In Britain we have measures in place to reduce chemical hazards and keep workers as safe and healthy as we can. There are organisations such as HSE that enforce these measures and ensure workplaces are following the rules.


PPE such as gloves and masks should be worn to reduce chemical hazards

In developing countries such as Bangladesh, it’s been documented that “sickness and death come with the job description” for workers in industrial roles. Workers just accept that they’re dealing with toxic chemicals so accidents could happen.

There aren’t enough measures in place to reduce chemical hazards in these areas. Shockingly, workers even work with no shoes, plastic gloves or face masks.

The lack of masks often leads to respiratory problems (which can even occur in places of low exposure), and 30% of farmers working around chemicals and pesticides suffer from chronic health conditions

“Sickness and death come with the job description [in developing countries]”

Regulatory organisations


Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is an organisation set up to govern workplace practices in Great Britain.

They provide information on workplace legislation, as well as appropriate training and how to reduce risks among yourself and your employees.

The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 was enforced by HSE and acts as the primary piece of legislation covering occupational health and safety in Great Britain.


GHS stands for the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals.

It describes the effort to classify chemical hazards so that rules, standards and symbols will be the same worldwide. This will provide a more streamlined sale and delivery for international chemical transactions. It also means that those in the chemical industry will be able to understand potential hazards when handling toxic substances from a different country.

Thanks to the organisations and guidelines that are set up to reduce the chance of injury or illness in the workplace, there’s no reason that chemical companies shouldn’t be well-informed in how to reduce chemical hazards. At ReAgent, we believe that health is just as important as safety and we aim to protect workers to the highest level when they’re carrying out their jobs.


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