What are chemical hazards?

A chemical hazard is a type of occupational hazard caused by exposure to chemicals in the workplace. Chemical hazards and toxic substances pose a wide range of health hazards such as irritation, sensitization and burns. In order to ensure chemical safety in the workplace, information about the identities and hazards of the chemicals must be available and understandable to workers.

Some commonly used workplace chemical hazards include:

  • acids
  • caustic substances
  • cleaning products such as toilet cleaners, disinfectants, mildew remover and chlorine bleach
  • heavy metals, including mercury, lead, cadmium, and aluminium
  • paint
  • pesticides
  • petroleum products
  • solvents
  • photocopier toner, etc.

Example: The most common example is the lead-acid batteries which are very common and are also installed in off grid or hybrid solar power plants. Batteries are safe, but caution is necessary when touching damaged cells and when handling lead-acid systems that have access to lead and sulfuric acid.

The sulfuric acid in a lead-acid battery is highly corrosive and is more harmful than acids used in most other battery systems. It can cause serious burns and if comes in contact with the eye can cause permanent blindness.

Prevention when installing a lead-acid battery:

  • install battery in well-ventilated area
  • keep flames and equipment that create spark away from the battery
  • cover the battery terminal
  • make sure connections are tight and secure
  • use personal protective equipment as per safety regulations.

 

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