We use more chemicals today than ever before. Despite growing pressures on health and safety laws, there are still many dangers around us in our day-to-day lives. Your workplace could be home to some of these dangers. Here are just a few chemicals to watch out for.
Most modern cleaning fluids – especially commercial ones – are built to shift the most stubborn dirt and grime. As a result, these cleaning fluids often contain some pretty nasty chemicals such as ammonia and hydrochloric acid. Some companies will train their staff up on such dangers, whilst others won’t. Always read the label on the back before using these and use safety gloves if provided. Never mix cleaning fluids as this can cause reactions that produce hazardous fumes. If you’re regularly transporting cleaning goods around, be careful of storing opened fluids together in the same box – there have been instances where fluids have fell over and mixed caused deadly fumes to circulate around the vehicle. Use bio-friendly cleaning fluids if you want to be safe.
Paints and solvents
Painters and decorators should be careful about the paint they’re using. Lead-based paint has long been banned in many countries, but there are still paints that use dangerous substances such as benzene. Solvents have long been a cause for concern. Fortunately, there are now many green solvent substitutes’ available as well as bio-friendly glues.
Beauticians and hairdressers can often be exposed to cosmetic products that can be harmful. This site lists some of the most dangerous chemicals in the cosmetic industry to look out for. Cosmetics have been known to produce individual allergies – you should always do a skin test first when trying out a new product. Most cosmetic industries will already do this on both themselves and on clients before trying out such products. Always read up on the risks – some products only take effect after long-term use. Try to limit these products to safer and more time-tested chemicals.
Fumes and flour
Many petrochemical industries can produce dangerous fumes containing carcinogenic substances such as Benzene. Whilst those working directly with petrol (such as gas station workers) should be most aware of this, there are many other industries in which benzene is present such as in drylining, steel works, shoemaking and even in printing factory through ink fumes. Legal action against benzene poisoning is common – you can read case info for lawsuits involving benzene here. Even large companies have been known to use it in their products, despite tighter laws surrounding the substance.
Raw flour meanwhile can equally dangerous when breathed in over a long-term period – something to consider if you’re working in the baking industry or in a mill. White flour can cause respiratory problems and is a leading cause of asthma.
In both cases, you’re best off always wearing a protective mask.
Your old office walls
If your office is an old building, there may be danger lurking in the walls. Substances once commonly used in construction such as lead paint and asbestos are common in older buildings. Whilst measures have been taken to get rid of all traces, there are still many buildings across the world that contain lead paint and asbestos. If it is your own office, hire a health and safety inspector to have a look, or if it’s not your office and you suspect there may be such materials in the walls, ask your boss to do an inspection.