By Lynn Mitchell, ANAD Safety OfficeJuly 26, 2019
ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- The other day, I was eating some jalapeño hummus as a snack and my nephew tried to reach over and grab some on his finger to taste. I quickly moved it out of his reach and told him it was hot and he wouldn't like it.
A very stubborn child, my nephew, of course, ignored my warning and lunged quickly to get some on his finger and into his mouth.
For his insistence, he was rewarded with a "burning" mouth. He started whining and pointing at his tongue before gulping down his entire cup of milk.
From this, my nephew learned two important lessons -- heed warnings given and make sure he knows what he is putting in his mouth.
We all know to pay attention to warnings and most of us have learned not to put "unknowns" in our mouths.
Yet, many of us, on a daily basis, work with chemicals for which we are not adequately aware of the hazards.
Most of you know to check Safety Data Sheets for products at work and are familiar with what you handle on the job.
The surprising fact is many of us get complacent and don't always think to re-check the SDS when a substitute is brought into the work area or we change processes.
We think because we've been doing the job for a long time we're aware of the possible hazards and assume they don't change.
Equal substitutes for chemicals can have different hazards, due to different chemical composition. Even the same product may change chemical formulations over time.
Protect your safety and never assume you know the hazard. Stop and take time to review the SDS for any new product and even, occasionally, for products you've used for years.
Never find yourself unaware, review the SDS.
When chemicals are used improperly, we may find ourselves exposed to excessive vapors and fumes or chemical reactions from inappropriate product mixtures, not to mention the potential fire or explosive hazards which might also result.
It makes sense to know the hazards at work because we have lots of chemicals utilized for differing processes; but, do you also take safety home with you?
Many of us work with more chemicals at home than at work and rarely educate ourselves about what we're working with.
Household chemicals are generally in diluted quantities and, if used per manufacturer's instructions, are not harmful. The question is, how often are you reading those labels to ensure you're properly using and storing those household products?
Never forget the lessons of Hazard Communication, whether at home or at work, always check the labels and review the SDS for cleaning products, paints, sealants and other chemical-based products you are using
Make sure the product is what you believe it to be and you know the associated hazards. Reading labels and reviewing an SDS can help ensure you avoid a chemical accident at work or home.