Best practices in chemical handling focus on protecting the end-user of chemicals. If this is done well, not only will organizations meet the regulations but they will reduce illness and associated costs, improve internal and external reputation and facilitate an environment where workers can responsibly unleash the benefits of chemicals!
How is this Accomplished?
Consider the DuPont Bradley Curve1 shown in Figure 1. Risk of injury reduces as organizations move to the right using leadership, education and consistent practices. It aligns nicely with the Rillea Best Practice Chemical Handling Continuum in Figure 2, focused on achieving organizational chemical handling confidence and safety.
Figure 1: Dupont Bradley Curve1
Figure 2: Rillea Best Practice Chemical Handling Continuum
Safety Leads to Profitability
DuPont has comprehensively defined the benefits versus costs of fully educated organizational personnel, in the complete Bradley Curve Infographic. Studies by DuPont have shown that safety leads to profitability. “Employees naturally become more emotionally and physically vested in their work. Work force turnover goes down while productivity and quality go up.”1
Is Luck a Good Environmental and Occupational Health Strategy?
Organizations who simply give chemical handlers generic WHMIS education and perhaps keep (material) safety data sheets ((M)SDS) up-to-date, leave workers to make their own decisions about how to handle chemicals. With (M)SDSs being long, complicated and sometimes confusing for many workers, organizations may be depending on worker instinct and luck to avoid illness and risk. Is luck really a good environmental and occupational health strategy? The DuPont Bradley Curve1 clearly shows it is not!
When organizations engage in hazard identification and risk assessment but stop there, they make workers dependent on supervisors to help them understand how to safely handle chemicals. If supervisors are not around, luck may again be an undesired strategy.
Best Practice in Chemical Safety
When organizations continue through the risk assessment process to eliminate/mitigate the risk and conduct thorough worker chemical-specific training and communication, they move to the “independent” phase where employees are equipped with the knowledge to make good chemical-handling decisions.
When organizations take the final step of auditing and reviewing their systems to ensure they are successful, they reach the “interdependent” stage. Discussions and information sharing is encouraged. This is where organizations achieve their highest level of safety, organizational performance and return on investment.
Does This Process Meet Legal Requirements?
Each step in the Rillea Best Practice Chemical Handling Continuum is in fact a regulatory requirement in the province of Ontario as well as most other locations around the world. By addressing each of these steps, organizations will not only improve their worker performance but they will reduce illness and associated cost while meeting local chemical handling regulations and improving their internal and external reputations.
Not Sure Where to Start?
- Dupont Bradley Curve Infographic, http://www.dupont.com/products-and-services/consulting-services-process-technologies/articles/bradley-curve-infographic.html