It is important to avoid exposure to hazardous chemicals in the working place as well as chemical dumping sites. These hazardous chemicals can be found within these areas in their liquid, solid or gaseous forms in which matter is existent. When not well handled and properly disposed these hazardous chemical can find route into contact with the users to cause harmful and even severe effects. The chemicals can enter the body through the skin when absorbed on the skin surface or injection, also known as puncture; by inhalation via the nostrils and the mouth or even accidental and intentional ingestion through the mouth.
Inhalation has become a major route of exposure to these hazardous chemicals in most industries and work places. Inhaled hazardous gases pass through the respiratory tract into the lungs causing respiratory complications like breathing problems. Worse still, the hazardous chemical gas may diffuse into the bloodstream causing further oxygen uptake impairment.
Direct skin contact by the hazardous chemicals is also a vital route in their uptake. Upon exposure to some hazardous chemicals, the skin may be affected by injuries through burns and corrosions. Some of these chemical may also penetrate into the blood capillaries underneath the skin surface that may transport them to important organs within the body. Chemicals can also be injected through the skin when an individual steps on contaminated sharp objects like needles. (Haight, 2012)
Ingestion of the hazardous chemicals can be through chewing of gums, drinking of unsafe water and taking food that has been unattended to for a long period of time.
It is therefore important to take good care and take safety measures when handling hazardous chemicals to avoid exposure to them, which may prove harmful to the body systems.
Hazardous Organic Solvents and Protective Measures to Control Exposure
Organic solvents are compounds that are industrially used in the formulation, manufacturing and processing of chemical products like drugs. Most of them are considered to be potentially hazardous when not properly handled. Examples of organic solvents include trichloroethene, ethylene glycol and xylene.
Some organic solvents are highly inflammable and explosive and can result into fire outbreaks within the working area. Others are corrosive and also irritate the skin. Under poor ventilation conditions, most of these solvents may emit gases that can cause suffocation to the users
In the characterization and use of these organic solvent it is important to note their boiling points, flash points and their explosive limits. The boiling point determines how volatile the organic solvent is, whereas the flash point is used to engage how flammable the organic solvent is. Explosive limits are essential for explosive solvents and should be of great concern too to the user. These organic solvent should therefore be handled within the appropriately indicated temperature ranges and limits that are designed with reference to their boiling and flash points and the explosive limits. Wearing of safety gear like gloves, eye goggles and closed shoes should be priority to avoid skin itching and corrosive effects of the organic solvents. (Haight, 2012)
Safe Practices When Handling Chemicals in the Laboratory.
In order to ensure safety when handling hazardous chemicals in the laboratories, various safety practices have been put down. Apart from safety and security of the laboratory users, the safety practices ensure the smooth operation and accurate carrying out of the intended procedures within the laboratory. General safety practices for handling chemicals can be either those aiming at the laboratory user or that aimed at how to handle the hazardous chemicals.
The laboratory user must ensure they are in the fully required safety gear. This includes hand gloves that protects the hands against any corrosive effects of spill away chemicals; closed foot wear also to protect the feet form corrosive effects of hazardous chemical; eye goggles and a laboratory coat. All these aim at protecting the individual against hazardous chemical exposure. The laboratory user must not carry or consume foodstuff within the laboratory. This safety practice is enforced to ensure no consumptions of hazardous chemicals that maybe contaminants to the foods. (Haight, 2012)
Concerning the chemicals, correct guidelines and procedures must be used when handling them. Inappropriate use or combination of these chemicals may result into unplanned and sometimes, dangerous reactions like flames and explosions. The user is also required to wipe chemical spillages and dispose of them as soon as they happen to avoid injuries resulting from accidental exposure.
An occupational illness refers to the circumstances where exposure to physical biological or chemical agents within an individuals work place results to the alteration and impairment of their normal body functions. It is imperative that the employer or owner of the workplace provide prior information to the worker on the potential availability of hazards that may lead to such illnesses and on how to manage them effectively. Occupational illnesses are categorized based on the causative agent of the normal physiological impairment.
Occupational illnesses due to biological agents result into fungal, viral and biotic infections from within the place of work. Examples include airborne flu outbreaks, bug infections at the place of work and bacterial infections of drinking water like in the case of cholera.
The illnesses due to chemical agents result from excessive or even acute exposure to hazardous chemical compound in the place of work. Such examples include pesticide consumption through the air, corrosion by some solvents and car battery acid or contamination by sanitary detergents.
Those that occur due to physical agents result from excessive energy forms causing injury to an individual worker. Examples include dumbness due machinery noise pollution; cellular mutations due to ionizing radiations and suffocation from to dust or smoke in mining pits. For all of the above illnesses, the employer should provide the worker with appropriate protective gear to prevent much exposure to the causative agent.
Ergonomic hazards result from repetitive involvement in handling very heavy objects or machinery resulting into physical deformations and adaptiveness to such activities even when off the work. Examples include manual laborers carrying heavy loads to destinations, sack ferrying and brick laying and poor posture while operating an office machinery for example computers. To control this the workers need to be given resting periods and breaks within their working hours. (Haight, 2012)
Personal and Area Monitoring
Personal and area monitoring involves the regular measurement and determination of the safety of the workers environment with regard to the potential hazards resulting into occupational illnesses.
Direct reading techniques include gas detectors, picture mix exposure and real time gas detectors. These methods can be can be advantageous as they can be digitally read off and manipulated, hence are accurate. However, they cannot prevent occurrence of leakages or reveal appropriate combative actions.
The other sampling techniques used include personal sampling, area sampling, source sampling and surface or extractive sampling. Personal sampling involves the positioning of the sampling equipment within the breathing zone of the target worker. This technique is applicable mostly when inhalation is the main exposure route to a hazardous chemical substance. It is advantageous due to its ability to reveal real exposure of the individual to the hazard. (Haight, 2012)
Area sampling on the other hand, has sampling equipment placed within the area of operation of the worker to establish the spread of the hazardous chemical and relatively safer areas within the working zone. In source sampling the equipment are set near the source of the chemical to establish methods of controlling its spread. Surface or extractive sampling involves the use of lift off tapes and wipe tests coupled to X-ray techniques to identify non-airborne hazards.
The information obtained from these methods can be used to redesign the workers exposure limits fixed with alerts if such limits of exposure are reached.
Haight, J. (2012). Recognition, evaluation, and control of workplace health hazards. Des Plaines, Ill.: American Society of Safety Engineers.
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