6 September 2018

How Chemicals in the Office May Be Harmful to Employees

All business owners and managers of employees are quite aware of the needs and obligations they are under protect their staff from any form of safety hazards or health risks.

Many office-based safety programs focus on such things as preventing eye strain, how to safely lift objects in the workplace, and proper ergonomics among other things. Many however, overlook the potential risks inside an office based environment compared to a warehouse or construction site. An office can contain a number of less obvious health risks, which can include cleaning chemicals and other hazards that have the potential to cause serious injury if not addressed.

This article aims to educate on two important aspects of safety. This include suitable training as well as the liability that an employer falls under. No employer wants any of their staff to be exposed to any risks by overlooking things like chemicals and cleaning agents. Often office chemical cleaning agents are much more concentrated and stronger than the typical cleaning agents used at home.

As mentioned, there are two key concepts to prevent accidents or injury and this includes correct staff training and employers understanding their liability and responsibilities.

Suitable Training

Most employees will be trained properly on how to use dangerous office equipment including things like paper shredders and guillotines for cutting. However many office workers have not been trained in health and safety issues regarding cleaning up mess like spills, stains or other liquids that need to be cleaned up properly. If you expect your employees to keep their working areas clean and tidy, you will want to be absolutely sure they know how to use cleaning agents and have been trained properly despite how basic this may seem.

A person can sustain many different types of injuries when using commercial grade chemicals that include lung damage, eye injury, chemical burns and even dermatitis. If a person is not trained on how to use these higher concentrated chemicals and do not use proper gloves, they could end up contracting dermatitis and the risk of this to a person who does not wear proper personal protective equipment is even further increased.

Other serious potential issues include lung damage from inappropriately mixed chemicals and concentrated agents. A person can sustain severe lung injury that resembles the same damage as inhaling chlorine gas. Unfortunately, many people are not trained on how to use these chemicals in office workplaces and many employees do not have any first aid medical training to counteract these potential problems. Some cleaning agents will require immediate hospitalization. Each and every chemical should have clearly printed first aid treatments in case of emergency.

Employers Liability

Employers are completely responsible that all risks that could affect a workers health and safety must be managed and mitigated as much as possible. An organization is liable if a person in your office becomes injured by the improper use of cleaning agents, with or without the managements instruction or knowledge. If there are hazardous materials stored in the office then the staff must be appropriately trained in their use. Be sure to create a safety course and instruct and educate staff on why they should avoid using these cleaning agents and the risks involved.

Be sure that chemicals are not accessible to employees and be sure that any cleaning agents that are employed are replaced with less hazardous products. There should also be documented information that includes the appropriate first aid treatments for each chemical. A safety officer in the workplace should be educated and well versed on what to do in case of an accident or emergency.

A final thought is that cleaning agents should be held inside their original containers in a secure, locked area with information about these chemicals readily available. All cleaning activities should be restricted to times outside of regular office hours. Cleaning should be kept to evening or weekends and all staff should be taught what to do in case of emergency and how to treat injuries related to each type of chemical, despite if the workers are told not to touch them.

Safety is a responsibility

Following the advice as suggested above should give you a clearer understanding of the risks involved with office cleaning products. All employers are liable for the safety and health of their workers while in the office. So be sure to follow these two key components to prevent any health risks and have a safe and better working environment.

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