Sooner or later, working with or around hazardous material tends to result in accidents or injury. Regardless of whether the accident is due to human error or equipment failure, workplace accidents are bad news for businesses. So what can you do to reduce the risk of accidents when working around hazardous materials?

Teach Standardized Procedures

Having a set of standardized procedures in place for handling or being around dangerous materials is an important part of keeping everyone safe and your business accident-free. It’s not just enough to have them though. You need to train your employees to follow them. While it’s not likely to be the most interesting training ever, there are some things you can do to improve employee engagement while training them. Once your employees are trained, make sure you enforce adherence to the procedures in place.

Use a Labeling System

If the hazardous materials in your workplace include chemicals, it’s especially important that you use a proper labeling system for them. NFPA 704 labels help emergency responders know what precautions to take upon encountering an accident scene. Colors, symbols, and different areas on the labels are used to communicate different hazards and the level of severity. It’s essentially a quick and dirty guide that can be used to figure out what sort of hazard you’re dealing with so you know how to protect yourself from it.

Enforce the Use of PPE

Part of the responsibility that businesses have to provide their employees with a safe work environment is to provide employees with the appropriate PPE they need for their job. If you want to reduce the risk of accidents and injuries involving hazardous materials it’s not enough to just provide it though. You need to enforce its use. PPE can’t provide proper protection if it’s not being used properly or at all. There are different reasons employees don’t use PPE. Most of them can be addressed by employers through good communication and discipline. Make the use of PPE a part of your workplace culture. Take it seriously. It can help protect both your employees and your business.

Working around hazardous materials requires that proactive measures be taken to reduce the risk of accidents. It’s important to teach employees standardized procedures, to use a labeling system, and to enforce the use of PPE. This will help protect employees from accidents and injury, and help reduce your liability as a business.

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