How to Develop Emergency Procedures for Corrosive Chemicals
Corrosive chemicals are subject to the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002. As part of this, an emergency procedure should be created to deal with emergencies and accidents.
Some business and industries will have cause to use corrosive chemicals on their premises and by their workforce. If you are a business or commercial organisation that uses corrosive chemicals, you need to, by law, have emergency procedures in place for any accidents and events involving chemicals that are harmful.
Emergency procedures are necessary as these types of chemicals can burn and cause injuries to staff, therefore there is a legal requirement to have a procedure in place that can be mobilised in such an event.
So what does an emergency procedure look like?
The first thing to do is to get everything down on paper to assess the chemicals, how they are handled when they come onto your premises and all preparation methods that are used with the chemicals. You must also examine and document the process that is used when handling and preparing chemicals and also how the chemicals are disposed of after use.
Chemicals must be stored in a safe and secure place away from other chemicals and hazardous substances as required. Specialist cupboards are designated and utilised to secure hazardous chemicals and all secure storage needs to be locked at all times when not in use.
In terms of communication, there needs to be readily available contact numbers that are available to the appropriate people in the event of an accident or emergency. This means that communication can take place quickly and efficiently. Contact numbers will involve hospitals, medical staff, agencies and other organisations that should be party to communication and notification in the event of an emergency.
Employees who are trained in First Aid must also be contactable, and the First Aid training needs to be up-to-date and adequate for the chemical risks on the commercial premises.
There also needs to be a clear process and instruction for containing and dealing with any chemical spillage, including any safety equipment, neutralising supplies and clothing that is required to deal with a spillage. The disposal of chemicals need to be documented and precautions taken to minimise the risk of a spillage.
Overall, your emergency procedures should also be checked by other stakeholders in the organisation as well as be communicated to all staff and employees who need to know about the procedures. A manager who is responsible for the overall procedures should be appointed and given the job of checking the procedures are fit-for-purpose and are continually assessed and tested.
In the event of an emergency your staff also needs to know immediately what their roles and responsibilities are and what they need to do. A run-through and test of the procedures and staff should also be conducted, ideally at least twice a year. This will help to clarify roles and responsibilities in your employee’s minds, test the procedure for efficiency and prove that it works and also to help improve the procedure as a whole as well as the parts that do not work well when tested. A procedure will be made up of a series of processes, transactions, communications and activities, so all of these must be tested together to ensure the overall procedure is cohesive and works at every single stage for a satisfactory outcome.
Any revisions, updates or changes should be communicated moving forward. Employees who are involved with handling and dealing with corrosive chemicals need to be fully trained and given refresher training when necessary. All of the training, communications and notices to staff must be documented and regularly revised.
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