Strictly speaking, no cleaning chemical is any safer or more dangerous than any other – it all comes down to how they are handled and stored. When used exactly in accordance with manufacture specifications, no cleaning of sanitary chemicals need necessarily be of any real danger or threat to those using them.
This applies just as much in the workplace as it does everywhere else – even in instances where relatively strong chemical cleaners and preparations are used.
Nevertheless, it’s of the utmost importance to ensure that both those using chemicals and those working in the vicinity of chemicals are periodically reminded about safe handling and storage procedures. Some are covered by UK law and others are pure common sense – in all respects however, it’s the rules and regulations that make the difference between safe handling and dangerous working practices.
So just as a brief refresher, here’s a quick overview of six simple yet essential tips for safer handling and storage of cleaning chemicals:
1. In all workplaces, it is a good idea to keep a complete list/inventory detailing each chemical used and stored at any one time. The list should contain the details of the chemicals, what they are used for, where they are stored, any additional precautions and potential hazards. This checklist can prove invaluable in tracking chemical use and identifying potential hazards.
2. Cleaning chemicals should always be kept in their original containers so as to avoid mix-ups. Even in instances where new containers are used and appropriately labeled, the fact that this is not the original container can still be dangerously misleading.
3. Under no circumstances should any two or more cleaning products ever be mixed together, regardless of how similar or seemingly mild they may be. It’s absolutely impossible to know how chemical compounds will react when combined, though suffice to say the results could be catastrophic.
4. In terms of storage, it is of crucial importance never to store dangerous chemicals on high shelves or surfaces, which in the event of spillage during removal could put the respective individual’s face/eyes/head at risk. Chemicals should always be stored below head height in all instances across the board.
5. Also on the subject of storage, it is extremely important to make sure the chemicals are stored in an area with plenty of ventilation to avoid the buildup of dangerous fumes. But at the same time, it is just as important to ensure that the ventilation provided does not feed into any of the building’s other ventilation systems, in order to prevent the air from becoming contaminated or dangerous.
6. Last but not least, if any given chemical states that personal protective equipment (PPE) should be worn while using it, it is absolutely imperative that these instructions be followed. It takes nothing more than a slight slip, splash or even a couple of drips here and there to inflict the kind of life-affecting damage that could have easily been avoided, had the required PPE been used.