Identifying chemical hazards
Hazardous chemical products and ingredients are found in many items within the workplace including detergents, solvents, degreasers, odour control products, scale removers and surface cleaners. Some of these products and brands may seem so familiar that they can create a false sense of security about their safety. However it is important that ALL products containing chemicals are identified and assessed for any chemical hazards.
The two key ways to identify chemical hazards are to carefully study both the product packaging AND the product’s SDS.
Product labels may include (though not always) active ingredients, hazard statements and pictograms (symbols) relating to the chemical hazard classification of the chemicals contained within the product.
However it is not enough to simply read the product label. Most products do not include relevant chemical health risks and hazards on the packaging. Only a Safety Data Sheet will provide all the information necessary to adequately understand, evaluate and manage chemical hazards.
Safety Data Sheet (SDS)
Safety Data Sheets contain in-depth information on hazardous chemical ingredients and their potential health effects including toxicological properties, physical hazards, safe use, storage, handling, disposal requirements and emergency procedures.
These documents must be made available by the manufacturer, importer or distributor of hazardous chemical products and made available to any person who is likely to be affected by the chemical, and to anyone who asks for the details. WHS Officers and Business owners must then make sure that the documents are available to all workers who come into contact with the substance.
Remember: If you are unsure about a chemical hazard it is safest to assume the worst.
If you are not sure if a chemical is hazardous, always treat it as though it is, until the product can be proven to be safe.