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Apr 2016

Chemical Conundrum: Are There Hazardous Chemicals In Your Workplace?


Chemical Conundrum: An OSHA Toolkit

According to OSHA, there are tens of thousands of chemicals used every day by a wide variety of workers, in a range of different occupations. From janitors to morticians, chemicals are an integral part of many different jobs. Are all of the chemicals in use at your workplace safe? How do you know, and if you determine that a chemical in use may be harmful, how can you identify alternatives?  Is the alternative a drop in replacement, or will you need to make changes to your processes that could impact efficiency?

How do you identify dangerous chemicals?

The OSHA Chemical Tool kit is a step-by-step process that allows large companies, as well as small businesses, to identify dangerous chemicals in their workplace. Once hazardous chemicals are identified, companies can either eliminate them from use or find safer alternatives. In addition to improving employee safety and health by eliminating hazards related to dangerous chemicals in the workplace, the toolkit will help with:

  • Lower expenses and future risks.
  • Improve efficiency within the company and increase performance.
  • Help companies invest to stay competitive, even without the dangerous chemicals.
  • Improve company stewardship and responsible practices.


How does the tool kit work?

The OSHA toolkit is available to all companies and provides a direct process through which safety and efficiency are prioritized. The kit focuses on reducing the hazardous effects of dangerous chemicals to the health of employees. It also addresses indirect economic detriments brought about through the occupational hazards these chemicals present. Substituting these chemicals with safer alternatives can help companies save money by reducing liability costs, protective equipment costs, and other indirect factors.

There are also many indirect societal costs spurred by dangerous chemical exposure. Cancer causing agents, for example, place a strain on society that applies financially as well as emotionally. Finding safer alternatives can help alleviate these strains.  Additionally, the toolkit works to improve company leadership, and promotes an atmosphere of stewardship within the company itself. This will reflect positively not only on job safety, but, subsequently, on employee morale and work ethic.

What are the elements of the toolkit?

The OSHA toolkit is comprised of seven steps to guide companies through the process. The steps are designed to make the entire process simple and efficient, while still covering all bases. The process covers everything from planning, to identifying dangerous chemicals, to substituting those chemicals with safer ones. The tool kit also boasts a failsafe procedure as it has users assess all alternatives before implementing new protocols and routines. This failsafe mechanism will help companies refrain from making chemical substitutions that could be detrimental to their individual enterprises. The tool kit guides you through every aspect of the process from identifying dangerous chemicals to implementing safer alternatives.

  • Step 1- Form a team to make a plan of action.
  • Step 2- Examine chemical use.
  • Step 3- Identify and select dangerous chemicals that need to be substituted.
  • Step 4- Analyze the options of substitute (alternative) chemicals (does it save money in indirect costs, liability, injury, etc.).
  • Step 5- Weigh the impacts the alternative chemical will have (cost, efficiency, etc.).
  • Step 6- Use the alternative chemical in a “trial run”. Test its effectiveness on a small scale.
  • Step 7- If the alternative chemical is sufficient then develop a plan to implement that chemical into full scale use.

The toolkit is a viable option for any company. It can effectively assess chemical use, and determine if those uses can be improved upon. Alternatives are out there. Solving the dangers some chemicals present is no insurmountable task. There is an answer to the chemical conundrum.



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