Engaging Your Employees in Your Chemical Safety Program

Rachel Krubsack, Editor - EHS

November 14, 2023

Employee Reading Chemical Label

One of the biggest pieces to a successful safety program is training. When it comes to your chemical safety program, you want employees to understand two things: 1) Working with chemicals poses health and physical hazards, and 2) Your chemical safety program helps protect employees – but only if they take the information and use it in their jobs.

One way to engage employees in your chemical safety program is to ask specific questions related to the chemicals in the workplace:

  • What are the hazards of the chemicals they work with, i.e., Are they flammable? Eye irritants? Respiratory hazards?
  • How are employees protected from those hazards, i.e., Do they need personal protective equipment (PPE) – if so, where do they find it? Do they know its limitations?
  • What should employees do in an emergency, i.e., Are they expected to clean up a chemical spill or to evacuate the area/building?

“What if” scenarios also help engage employees. What if there’s a chemical fire? What if a chemical is splashed in the eyes or on the skin? What if there’s no Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for a specific chemical or if a container isn’t labeled? What if there’s a medical emergency involving a hazardous chemical?

Your written Hazard Communication (HazCom) program can serve as a training blueprint, as it reflects what you’re doing to protect employees from chemical hazards. It should include a chemical inventory and address:

  • Training on chemicals in the work area,
  • Labels on shipped and in-house containers,
  • SDSs,
  • The methods used to inform employees of the hazards of non-routine tasks and the hazards of unlabeled pipes in their work area, and
  • Multi-employer workplaces.

J. J. Keller's Chemical Management Service provides EHS professionals a complete solution to help effectively manage a HazCom safety program including managing Safety Data Sheets, reviewing your policies and creating custom HazCom training.