Hazardous materials are found in most workplaces but do all employees understand the risks?
Hazardous materials serve valuable functions in the workplace like the flammable liquids used for cutting and welding or the compressed gas used to fuel forklifts. It’s critical that workers know about the hazardous materials in their work area.
OSHA Standard 1910.106(b)(6) "Sources of ignition." In locations where flammable vapors may be present, precautions shall be taken to prevent ignition by eliminating or controlling sources of ignition. Sources of ignition may include open flames, lightning, smoking, cutting and welding, hot surfaces, frictional heat, sparks (static, electrical, and mechanical), spontaneous ignition, chemical and physical-chemical reactions, and radiant heat.
Compressed Gases are under high pressure and may contain dangerous gases that can affect your health in unsafe conditions. Some types of compressed gases commonly found in workplaces include:
To prevent injury and accidents, compressed gas cylinders must be used, stored, and transported properly.
OSHA Standard 1910.253(b)(2)(ii) Inside of buildings, cylinders shall be stored in a well-protected, well-ventilated, dry location, at least 20 (6.1 m) feet from highly combustible materials such as oil or excelsior. Cylinders should be stored in definitely assigned places away from elevators, stairs, or gangways. Assigned storage spaces shall be located where cylinders will not be knocked over or damaged by passing or falling objects, or subject to tampering by unauthorized persons. Cylinders shall not be kept in unventilated enclosures such as lockers and cupboards.
There are two primary hazards associated with Flammable Liquids: Explosions and Fire.
Flammable liquids commonly found in the workplace include:
OSHA Standard 1910.106(d)(5)(i) "Egress." flammable liquids, including stock for sale, shall not be stored so as to limit use of exits, stairways, or areas normally used for the safe egress of people.
Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG), also referred to as propane or butane, is a flammable mixture of hydrocarbon gases used as fuel for heating, cooking and to power heavy equipment like forklifts. LPG is an odorless liquid that evaporates into a gas and is extremely flammable.
Hazards of LPG include:
OSHA Standard 1910.110(b)(6)(i) ) Containers, and first stage regulating equipment if used, shall be located outside of buildings, except… [when used in designated locations and in] LP-Gas fueled industrial trucks…
Every hazardous material that is or may be used in the workplace should have its own Safety Data Sheet (SDS) that is easily accessible by all employees in a common area, like a Right to Know Center. Each SDS includes information such as:
Refer to Section 8 of the SDS to find recommendations for personal protective equipment (PPE) that should be worn to prevent illness or injury from exposure to the chemical and any special requirements for the PPE, like a specific type of glove or respirator.
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