Chemical Safety Training
I'm about to carry out some in-house safety training with workers who handle chemicals (acids/caustic mainly). I have plenty of information, but what I really need is a suitable and effective framework to deliver the information. Can anyone suggest a logical set of subjects that need to be covered?Paul Beel
- Durham, UK
There is training to appease regulators that will put your employees to sleep and there is reality. Wear your protective clothing. Do not wear contact lenses. Handle it with care. Flood yourself if it gets on you.(and tell your boss) Do not eat it, drink it or smoke it. If the fumes bother your nose, wear a respirator. KISS principle(keep it simple stupid) works better than exotic programs.James Watts
- Navarre, Florida
The first step is to investigate if there are regulations governing this safety training; if there are, you have to structure your training to comply. If there are not, then the framework should include concentrating on attitudes and on the most common and most serious causes of accidents (hydrofluoric acid, cyanide, hypochlorite and bisulfite, black oxides) ignoring accident causes which are both rare and of low severity.
I usually start with a "secret ballot" question like: "A well trained operator will never perform unsafe acts (True or False)?". After everyone turns in their anonymous answer and is now curious, I answer the question. (The readers all know the answer, don't they?)
The next "secret ballot" may be "I am authorized to make chemical additions to tanks (Yes, No, Don't Know)", where any "Don't Know" is a glaring red flag.
After half a dozen of these, almost everyone starts to 'get it' and is open-minded for the "Don't add water to acid" kind of lecture.
That's my style anyway.
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey
There are numerous video systems available in the UK. These normally run for about 15-35 minutes and cover a wide range of situations and points of interest. Choose one(s) that is/are directly relevant to your situation. The best sources are probably RoSPA and Safety Media, but have a trawl of the internet and get some other sources. Most suppliers will offer the videos on approval and many will allow hiring.
Having done some of this safety training myself, I find the best response is a bit of realism, coupled with practical demonstrations of what should be used (i.e., face masks or shields, safety specs, gloves etc).
Go for audience participation and an open forum - do not lecture the audience, but get them to think and respond to your points. Stress important points, such as splashes of strong caustic in the eyes will result in scarring and loss of vision, possibly permanently. Also stress how such an accident will affect the employee and his/her family. However, DO NOT put the emphasis of safety on the employee - remember the employer is responsible for providing all necessary safety equipment. Use this point to show the employer actually cares about the employee, his family and all their welfare.
Do not let a session go on for more than 45-50 minutes, otherwise you will lose their interest. If you want to go on longer, have a short break and supply tea/coffee and biscuits. Make the experience fun and remember most employees would prefer to be doing anything but their job! However, everyone has their threshold of boredom tolerance! It is important to make people feel wanted and cared for and UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES TALK DOWN TO THEM. Do not treat any question as stupid or facile, because the questioner will consider he/she is being treated as ignorant and will immediately rebel against you.
Remember that some of the employees will know about their jobs better than you do, by dint of them doing it for the past numerous years; these guys are the experts, not you! I would encourage asking the people being trained for practical advice and comment; possibly do this whilst running the course so they feel an important part of the training. In other words, use their knowledge.
As far as a course structure goes, it depends on the audience, but as a start, I would suggest:
1) What chemicals are being handled?;
2) What do the chemicals look/smell like?;
3) How are they identified?;
4) What harm can they do to you?;
5) How can you get exposed to them?;
6) What are the symptoms of exposure?;
7) What to do in the event of exposure?;
8) How do you protect yourself from the chemicals?;
9) How do you protect others from the chemicals?;
10) What do you do in the case of a spill?;
11) How do you dispose of the chemicals?;
12) What the company will provide the employee for their safety?;
13) What must the employee do as far as health and safety is concerned?;
14) Touch on the legal responsibilities of all concerned;
15) How can things go wrong at work?;
16) What will happen if things go wrong?;
17) Instill the sense of joint ownership.
Remember, in the UK you are governed by a raft of legislation, most of which stems from the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA). There are numerous regulations and Codes of Practice, some of which are based on the HSWA, that must be complied with, including CoSHH, "The six pack", CIMAH, COMAH, EPA and CHiPs, etc.
For your own protection, make sure everything is documented and stored safely. All participants should sign off that they have undergone the training and have understood it. If necessary, you may need to provide handouts in languages other than English.
Design the training to suite the audience, do not bore them with irrelevant points or subjects.
R&D practical scientist
Chesham, Bucks, UK
Many thanks to everyone who responded. I will use all of the information provided.Paul Beel
- Durham, UK
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