Dealing with Chemical Spills at Work
It's vital for both employers and staff to know and follow correct procedures when it comes to managing chemicals in the workplace. Whether it's a cleaning agent used in an office or chemicals in an industrial, medical or farming setting, chemicals are used frequently in workplaces. How do you prevent spills and what do you do when one occurs?
Storage, Transport & Use of Chemicals
How chemicals are transported or stored is vital in spills prevention. If chemicals aren't stored correctly or are at high risk of spilling, it is up to workplace management to rectify the situation. Chemicals can also pose a risk to the public during transport. Employees should be fully versed on emergency procedures, if a spill does occur. if a staff member is injured following a chemical spill, the employer may be liable if there was an issue around careless or incorrect storage.
Training & Prevention
It is an employer's responsibility to make sure that all staff are fully trained in relation to the management or handling of any chemical substances. Chemical risk assessments, planning and prevention should play a part in training. What to do in the event of a chemical spill should also be something that is addressed and planned for. Employees bear some responsibility for their own safety; if they are fully trained and work in a safe environment, they need to be conscious of procedures and adhere to them.
Injury Following a Chemical Spill
Any workplace where chemicals are used, needs to have proper procedures and prevention measures in place. Where an accident does occur, all staff should know what is to happen next. Is the spill safe to clean up? Do staff have the necessary training and equipment to clean a spill? While it is recommended that spills are dealt with quickly, the safety of people nearby is the most important factor. This includes staff who may come into contact with chemicals, whether they have been injured during the spill or in the follow up cleanup.
There are a number of accidents and injuries that are commonly associated with chemical spills.
- Slips and falls. Often an injury linked to a chemical spill is due to the spill itself prior to clean up.
- Contact with glues, solvents or cleaning agents can cause skin or eye irritation or conditions.
- Chemical spills can also include exposure to leaked dust, gases or vapours in the workplace
- Inhalation - according to the Heath and Safety Authority, breathing in contaminated air is the most common way that workplace chemicals enter the body. This can be exacerbated following a spill.
- Some chemicals can pass through the skin into the bloodstream.
- Sympmtoms of exposure to chemicals can include: itichy or stinging eyes or skin, chemical burns, problems swallowing, headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, fever or chillls.
If you fall following a chemical spill, you need to make sure that you get any medical attention needed. If you come into contact with any gas, liquid or substance following a chemical spill, you must also seek medical attention. Even if you are unsure about the strength or effect of a chemical, it is better to err on the side of caution and get medical advice or treatment.
Following a chemical spill causing injury, the HSA (Health and Safety Auhtority) should be contacted by the employer, or by the employee if the employer has not done so.
Personal Injury Claim Following Chemical Spill
If you have suffered injury or illness due to the negligence of others, following a chemical spill, you may have a case to make a personal injury* claim. At Pilar our solicitors will advise you on whether we think you have grounds to make a claim. We will give you honest and expert opinion about all aspects of your case, using clear and jargon free language.
PILAR is a network of law firms founded by Mary Flanagan, Niamh Moran and Anthony Carmody, Solicitors. Together, we form a skilled group of lawyers who have joined forces to provide a specialist offering in catastrophic personal injury* and litigation cases, including those relating to injury caused the chemical hazards at work.
You can call us on 01 2943846 to discuss your case in confidence . You can also contact us by our easy to use form on our homepage.