Chemical Safety In The Workplace

The inherent hazards of chemicals can be reduced by minimizing the quantity of chemicals on hand. However, when chemicals must be used, proper storage and handling can reduce or eliminate associated risks.

Proper storage information can usually be obtained from the Safety Data Sheet (SDS), label or other chemical reference material. As required by OSHA, a SDS must be on hand for every chemical in your workplace. The SDS and chemical label can be consulted for information on special storage requirements. The SDS can also answer questions such as:

  • Is the chemical a flammable or combustible?
  • Is the chemical a corrosive?
  • Does the chemical need to be stored other than at ambient temperature?
  • Is the chemical an oxidizer or reducer?
  • Is the chemical light sensitive?
  • Does the chemical require any special handling procedures?

Typical storage considerations may include temperature, ignition control, ventilation, segregation and identification. Proper segregation is necessary to prevent incompatible materials from inadvertently coming into contact. If incompatible materials were to come into contact, fire, explosion, violent reactions or toxic gases could result. When segregating chemicals, acids should not be stored with bases, and oxidizers should not be stored with organic materials or reducing agents. A physical barrier and/or distance is effective for proper segregation.

If cabinets are used to segregate chemicals, consider the compatibility of the chemicals with the cabinet. For example, corrosives, like strong acids and caustics, will corrode most metal cabinets. Non-metallic or epoxy-painted cabinets are available and will provide a better service life with these types of chemicals. However, it is recommended that hydrochloric acid not be stored in any metal cabinet. Some other acids and bases may damage the painted surfaces of a cabinet if a spill occurs.

There are cabinets available specifically for flammable and combustible materials. It is important to be aware of maximum allowable container size and maximum quantities for storage in cabinets based on the class of the flammable. The class of a flammable or combustible is determined by its flash point and boiling point.

The following chart lists the maximum volume of flammables and combustibles that can be stored in a single flammable storage cabinet.

*Not more than 60 gallons may be Class I and Class II liquids. No more than 120 gallons of Class III liquids may be stored in a storage cabinet, according to OSHA 29 CFR 1910.106(d)(3) and NFPA 30 Section 4-3.1.

NOTE: Not more than three such cabinets may be located in a single fire area, according to NFPA 30 Section 4-3.1.

One more thing…..Do Not Store Chemicals Alphabetically

For ease of locating chemicals, many storerooms organize chemicals alphabetically. However, chemical storage based upon an alphabetical arrangement of chemicals may inadvertently locate incompatible materials in close proximity. A few examples of this potentially dangerous storage method are demonstrated by the following pairs of incompatible materials:

If you want more information on chemical storage assessments or GHS/HazCom training contact Randy Free. 407-353-8165 or email him at rfree[at]

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Best Practices in Heat Stress Prevention

The season for high temperatures and humidity has arrived, making heat stress a serious concern for anyone working outside. Heat stress occurs because we often build up heat faster than we can dissipate it.  Too much heat can make us tired, hurt our job performance, and increase our chances of several heat related injuries including:…

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Residential Construction Is Back

Residential Construction

The residential construction industry has picked back up. If you work in the industry you already know that it’s still not at “boom” levels but there are tens of thousands of people working, and subsequently at risk, in the our local home-building industry.

Many Hazards

Residential Construction

A disproportional high number of people are killed and injured in the residential construction industry. The Bureau of Labor Statistic (BLS) has stated that almost a quarter of on-the-job fatalities in construction occur in residential work. Four hazards – falls, electrical hazards, contact with objects, and struck by impacts – cause 93 percent of these fatalities, and a variety of other hazards contribute to home building’s many serious injuries.

Lack of Accountability

Despite all the dangers posed by residential construction tasks, the perception in the residential construction industry is that safety doesn’t matter because the projects are often small-scale. This is particularly unfortunate because home building is a gateway to construction work, so many of the workers are inexperienced with construction hazards. Further, because the sector is largely staffed by immigrant labor formal skill and safety training is rare, and inadequate on-the-job training is the norm. As a result, safety is almost never communicated to the employees on site.

Falls and Scaffolds

Falls are the most common among framing and roofing workers who think for some reason that there are different fall protection requirements in residential construction than there is in commercial construction. This perception is completely wrong from both a hazard perspective and from a compliance perspective. After all, a 6 foot fall is a 6 foot fall no matter what type of building you fall from. In late 2010 OSHA discontinued some of their interim policies regarding fall protection in residential construction so that now the fall protection requirements are the same for all types of construction. For more information visit the OSHA residential construction page.

Nail Guns

Another issue of increasing concern is the use of nail guns. Serious wounds and even deaths have resulted from the use of nail guns. Nail guns are designed with a safety feature which requires two actions to fire including contact with a surface and a separate trigger squeeze. The problem is that people often disable the critical safety feature so that the gun will fire with only the trigger squeeze. This is an extremely dangerous idea!

If you work in the residential construction industry and would like to learn about the simple things you can do to improve the safety on your site please contact Randy Free. 407-353-8165 or email him at rfree(at)

Also click on the links below for more information on our residential specific courses including “Safety Basics” and “Residential Fall Protection”

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Senator Calls Out White House for Logjam in Workplace Safety Rulemaking

As workplace safety and health advocates figure out how to fix workplace safety regulations in the wake of the West, Texas explosion, they agree that one focus should be speeding the passage of new rules. Though the notoriously slow rulemaking process wasn’t a factor in the West, Texas explosion, it has been the cause of numerous other workplace fatalities, and could delay efforts to prevent another tragedy like West.

For instance, four years before a tragic explosion in West Virginia’s Upper Big Branch mine as a result of coal dust build-up, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board issued a report recommending that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) write a rule to prevent the accumulation of combustible dust. But it was not until 2009 that OSHA began the process of gathering information to write a rule. Then in 2010, OSHA downgraded the rule to a “long term action,” delaying the draft rule’s required approval by a Small Business Advocacy Review Panel (SBARP). On April 5, 2010, the coal dust at Upper Big Branch sparked, and the resulting explosion killed 29 miners.

Yet the combustible-dust rule is still awaiting SBARP pre-approval.

Keith Wrightson, worker safety and health advocate for the watchdog group Public Citizen, says, “Based on previous experience with OSHA, it is likely that it will take 8 to 12 years to issue a final rule for combustible dust.”

To read the full article, visit

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Best Practices in Eye Protection

Eye injuries are one of the easiest of injuries to avoid. It’s simple: Wear Safety Glasses! There are many kinds of eye protection on the market today. No matter what the situation or how “cool” you want to look, the eye protection you need is available.

True Story:

A local aluminum contractor began encouraging his eighteen year-old son to wear safety glasses while working for him. The son finally relented, when aluminum dust started getting in his eyes. About one week later, he was applying some material with an air powered staple gun. Unfortunately the staple ricocheted back towards his face and struck the safety glasses’ lens. The staple hit with such force that the lens was cracked and his eyebrow and cheekbone was bruised. There is no doubt that the safety glasses saved his eye!

What causes eye injuries?

Flying particles causes more than 70% of the eye incidents in construction. Injured workers estimated that nearly three-fifths of the objects were smaller than a pin head. Most of the particles were said to be traveling faster than a hand-thrown object when the incident occurred.

How can eye injuries be prevented?

Always wear effective eye protection. To be effective, the eyewear must be of the appropriate type for the hazard encountered and properly fitted and maintained.

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Tips for rigging

Workers involved in hoisting and rigging must exercise care when selecting and using slings.  The selection of slings should be based upon the size and type of the load, and the environmental conditions of the workplace. Slings tend to be placed into three groups: chain, wire rope and mesh, fiber rope and synthetic web.  Each…

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Breaking News: Fertilizer Plant explodes near Waco, TX

Between five and 15 people are thought to have been killed by a huge explosion at a fertiliser plant near Waco in the US state of Texas.

More than 160 people were injured as dozens of homes and buildings were destroyed in the evening blast.

Emergency services are still going from home to home, in the darkness, trying to rescue any survivors.

A number of firefighters were tackling a blaze at the scene when the explosion happened, and are still missing.

Read the full story on

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U.S. EPA Orders NASA to Clean Up Soils Threatening Sensitive Habitat

Release Date: 03/15/2013

Contact Information: David Yogi, 415-972-3350,

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today ordered the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to take immediate and long-term actions to address soil contamination at its Ames Research Center at the Moffett Field Naval Air Station in Mountain View, Calif. This order is part of an effort to enter into a long-term cleanup agreement with NASA for the Ames site.

Soils at the site–contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), lead, chromium, zinc, cadmium, and dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT)–pose a threat to local wildlife, including the endangered salt marsh harvest mouse, and have the potential to re-contaminate an adjacent stormwater retention pond that the U.S. Navy spent $9.7 million cleaning up in 2012.

In the coming months, EPA and the California State Regional Water Quality Control Board will continue to negotiate a facility-wide cleanup agreement with NASA for its remaining environmental cleanup responsibilities at the Moffett Field Superfund Site. Once the agreement is signed, EPA will monitor NASA’s work to ensure proper and timely implementation of the cleanup.


To view the press release, visit

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Incidents To Learn From

I just had a call from a framing contractor saying that one of their employees fell from the trusses of a two story home. As you can imagine this type of incident usually results in serious injuries or even death, yet in this case the employee who fell was relatively fine.

You see, this contractor recently worked with the “Safety Partnership” to develop a task specific fall protection plan for their framing operations. To do this we partnered with their contractors to place simple fall hazard controls.

One of these controls was to cover stairway openings so that if an employee fell he/she would not fall through the opening to the ground. (I.e. they limited their fall distance from around 25 to 8 feet).

In this case their plan paid off. When the employee fell from the trusses he landed on the cover probably saving his life.

Now the contractor’s workers compensation coverage will not be affected, the news vans did not arrive, OSHA did not investigate or issue fines, the crew continued framing, and most importantly a family was able to see their father at the end of the day.

I hope that you realize that the successful practice of safety does not have to be expensive or time consuming. Simply using a cover can make all of the difference in the world!

If you use covers however here is what OSHA requires:

  • Covers must be capable of supporting at least twice the weight being put on it. (Make it strong)
  • Covers must be secured to prevent displacement. (Nail it)
  • Covers must be marked or color coded. (Label them with the word “HOLE” or “COVER”).
For more information regarding incidents, visit us at or email at info[at]

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Why Not Safety Supremacy?

Why is it so hard to create and sustain superior safety performance? The answer is that it’s not that hard… if you want to. Unfortunately many organizational leaders perceive safety as an “inconvenient task” or an “added expense”.  It may shock you coming from a “safety” company like Safety Links but this perception is actually true! In the short term, safety is often inconvenient for employees and is often more expensive for managers.

Safety Is Good For Business:

That however does not mean safety is bad for business. In fact, our partners have proven that safety is good for business time and time again. Improved safety performance not only results in the obvious (lowered insurance rates, reduced liability, improved compliance), but safety can also greatly benefit the organization in many other ways.

Here are a few real life examples from our customers:

1. A small framing contractor in the residential construction industry recognized the need for improved fall protection. With our guidance they implemented a unique fall protection system for their crews. As a result of their unmatched safety performance they were awarded exclusive contracts with several large production builders. They are now building over 2000 homes a year. Needless to say they are not a small framing contractor anymore!

2. In an effort to improve “compliance”, a printing company with around 50 employees allowed us to guide them through the 5-S process, to improve their housekeeping and efficiency. As a result, their facility has been transformed to a world class printing facility that is now servicing customers around the world.

3. A paint manufacturer with around 100 employees allowed us to guide their transformation from a top down safety management approach to a more inclusive model. Now all employees are actively involved in the safety process and they no longer view safety as the “responsibility of the safety person”! This has resulted in increased employee satisfaction, reduced turnover and ultimately improved production.

I know it may sound cliché but we have hundreds of real life examples in which safety actually pays. If you are willing to invest time and energy into improving your safety performance in the long run you too will experience Safety Supremacy.

Key to Safety Supremacy:

Safety Supremacy is accomplished when safety isn’t viewed as safety in your culture; instead it’s just viewed as work. In other words, safety is simply treated as the way you do business. Making safety a “priority” is a mistake because when push comes to shove everyone’s priorities shift. Safety must be integrated into, and not separated from your business. From the organizational vision to the daily work tasks safety must be seen as a core value not merely a priority!

Those who try to implement traditional “safety programs” often fail in the long run because safety is treated as an add-on to production. Unfortunately what they fail to do is treat safety like they treat other key business activities.

Let’s consider how organizations manage employee attendance for example. Organizations typically have policies related to attendance. When a new employee starts they are told about the policy and are informally indoctrinated into a culture which has norms related to acceptable attendance. When employees come in late, or have too many unexcused absences, their behavior is not allowed to continue. This approach ensures that employees understand what is expected of them and that they are held accountable to those expectations. The consistent management of attendance creates a culture in which unacceptable attendance is simply not allowed by the culture.

The key to Safety Supremacy is no different. Safety Supremacy is accomplished when safety is perceived as “how we do business”. An organizational culture which values production, profitability and safety as one and the same is much more effective than an organization which separates safety from the business. To find out how you can achieve Safety Supremacy please contact me.

Trevor Reschny, CSP. 407-760-6170 or email me at treschny[at]

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