According to records kept by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, several thousand American laboratory workers are harmed by hazardous substances every year. Chemical exposure on the job can be disabling or even deadly. OSHA regulations require every lab to protect employees with a chemical hygiene safety plan.
What is a chemical hygiene plan?
A chemical hygiene plan is a detailed document that sets out a program of procedures, rules and responsibilities pertaining to lab workers who handle dangerous chemicals. Each workplace must have a customized CHP to fit the distinctive health hazards of the particular lab. A worker compensation lawyer in Algonquin is aware that this document must be accurate and up to date at all times.
Basic components of a CHP
The most basic components of a CHP include a list of standard operating procedures and criteria for minimizing exposure to dangerous chemicals. Each separate activity must be considered in its own right. If workers handle twenty different hazardous materials in a lab, the CHP must include best practices and control measures for all twenty materials.
Regulation of machinery
Proper regulation of safety machinery is another important part of every CHP. Fume hoods and other safety devices must be kept in good working order. The employer is responsible for an adequate schedule of maintenance and replacement, as every worker compensation lawyer in Algonquin knows.
Keeping workers informed
Every worker who handles hazardous chemicals must be properly trained and informed. The CHP is required to include training standards for each substance, including all of the following information:
- The most recent data on material safety and related issues
- All permissible exposure limits for substances regulated by OSHA
- Symptoms and signs of excessive exposure to hazardous chemicals
- Information on safe storage, handling and disposal of hazardous chemicals
- Emergency procedures in case of contamination or spills
A copy of the CHP itself must also be accessible to workers at all times.
Medical rights for workers
A chemical hygiene plan also guarantees important medical rights to employees. Every CHP must include full procedures for emergency medical examinations after lab accidents, routine monitoring for dangerous levels of exposure and other medical surveillance as required in the workplace. This medical care must be provided at no cost to the employee.
Meeting the challenges of lab work
According to OSHA, more than 500,000 U.S. employees currently work in labs. Handling chemicals on the job can be challenging and dangerous. People who have been exposed to hazardous substances should make an appointment to speak with a worker compensation lawyer in Algonquin.