Working safely on a construction site involves more than just providing workers with training and setting them to work. For employers it also involves identifying all hazards that will arise during the course of the project and dealing with these before workers are even exposed.
In the construction industry there are a number of hazards that can arise, most of them are easily identifiable while others may arise later on as the project progresses and some of them are often missed by those conducting the risk assessments.
A recent article on Sourceable.net discussed the importance of ensuring occupational health and safety on sites where hazardous chemicals are present. According to the article, all businesses have a responsibility to identify the risks of all chemicals on site and a duty to manage these chemicals properly including its safe transportation, storage, use as well as its safe disposal.
According to Australian law (The Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011), a new system of chemical classification and hazard communication on labels and safety data sheets (SDS) based on the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) has come into effect. While the majority of employers are doing the right thing when it comes to protecting workers from hazardous chemicals, there are still some who fail to recognise their role in ensuring worker safety.
The previous safety obligations that existed under the legislation for hazardous substances and dangerous goods at workplaces have now been joined into the requirements for hazardous chemicals.
The following excerpt from the post on Sourceable.net details more about hazardous chemicals safety on work sites:
Legally, anything chemical in your workplace must have a SDS. One workplace received a warning over non-compliance because it did not have a SDS for the ‘in-bowl’ toilet chemical hanging in the urinals.
You should also follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on how the chemical should be used in the SDS. If you use a surface cleaner like ‘Spray & Wipe’ in your café, the manufacturer’s SDS recommends wearing appropriate personal protective equipment and clothing to minimise exposure, and increasing ventilation when it is used.
Another issue that may arise is the improper interpretation of safety data sheets on work sites. According to the writer of the article on Sourceable.net the key to using a safety data sheet is learning to separate the information that you don’t need from what you do need, in other words finding the information that affects your workers health or the safety of the public.
Sometimes problems such as the non-standardised format of SDSs and its complexity can make them difficult to comprehend and interpret effectively. It is vital to seek assistance if there is anything that is unclear or you do not understand.
The post provides the following advice on effectively reading Safety Data Sheets:
Five Keys To Using Safety Data Sheets
If you don’t understand, ask.
Always know where they are kept for your work area.
Refer to them before using any product for the first time.
Review them anytime a question arises and you are not sure of the answer.
Always follow the instructions given on the SDS for safe working with chemicals.