Safety is important in the chemical industry as chemicals that are used to produce products touch everyone’s lives. A chemical process helps to create plastics, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, etc. Each process has different safety concerns. It’s important that every chemical be handled safely. We’ve all heard the phrase, “Safety first!” but how much do we know about the safety practices in our industrial environment? In the last decade, 130 significant chemical accidents occurred in India, resulting in 259 deaths and 563 major injuries.
Safety must be a key priority in chemical companies.
What is a chemical accident?
A chemical accident is defined as a harmful release, dispersal, discharge, or escape of a toxic substance or mixture into the environment that causes damage to human health or the natural environment and affects a wide range of living organisms in the affected area or along the transport route of the hazardous material (e.g., air, soil, groundwater, surface water, etc.).
In the year 1984, India experienced the world’s worst chemical (industrial) disaster, the “Bhopal Gas Tragedy,” which was the most devastating chemical accident in history, killing thousands of people due to the accidental release of the toxic gas Methyl Iso Cyanate (MIC).
Results of chemical hazards:
The result of a chemical disaster is usually a large number of casualties and economic losses, environmental pollution, disruption of infrastructure and destruction of industrial facilities, which can cause massive human suffering and loss of life, livelihoods and property, as well as a huge financial cost to the community and damage to its natural environment and ecosystems, causing long-term or permanent effects and hazards to future generations (See also Environmental impact of disasters).
Different types of chemical hazards:
Chemical industries use large amounts of chemical products in the production of different kinds of goods, from food to medicine, cosmetics, paints, and many more things that we use every day in our daily lives. The main purpose of chemical industries is to produce chemical raw materials and intermediate chemicals, which they sell to other industries for producing finished goods.
Chemicals used in industry often have to undergo processes such as extraction, purification, concentration, mixing with other materials, and so on before they are delivered for use in products or services (e g., cleaning agents). Some of the hazardous chemicals that are produced at an industrial level are solvents like xylene, toluene, naphtha, acetone, etc., acids like sulfuric acid, nitric acid, hydrochloric acid, acetic acid, formic acid, oxalic acid, and other chemicals like ammonia, sodium hydroxide, potassium hydroxide, calcium hydroxide, etc. Each chemical carries its own set of risks, such as the risk of being exposed to it through inhalation or ingestion, dermal contact, and so on.
A few of the most common chemical hazards are listed below.
Inorganic chemicals include acids, salts, minerals, and others. It can be a corrosive agent, an irritant, and also a flammable agent. Hazardous inorganic chemicals cause burns and corrosive injuries, as well as asthma, respiratory problems, and cancer.
Organic chemicals are substances that are naturally occurring or produced by living organisms. These chemicals include alcohols, aldehydes, ethers, ketones, and so on. They can cause skin irritations, asthma and respiratory problems, eye injuries, cancer and even death. Chemical hazards may be produced by a human or by a non-living object or system. These chemicals include metals, gases, and liquids as a chemical can exist in different states.
The chemical industries have their own set of hazards, in addition to the general dangers posed by other industries such as mining, petroleum refining, and so on, which endanger life, property, or the environment. The chemicals are extremely flammable, explosive, corrosive, toxic, reactive, and poisonous substances that can be hazardous if not handled properly and safely. As a result, taking all necessary precautions, before, during, and after handling these chemicals is critical in order to avoid injuries, accidents, and fatalities.
There are various types of chemical accidents, among which ‘explosion’ is a serious one. It is defined as an event which involves the rapid release of energy due to some form of ignition accompanied by an increase in the volume of air, gases, liquids, or solids (chemical) or other forms of energy (mechanical). Such an event may also involve a combination of these three effects, depending on the circumstances of the incident. This is one of the most dangerous chemical hazards, often fatal to human beings and destructive to property.
Chemical hazards can be caused by numerous sources, such as:
1) Leaks from storage tanks containing highly flammable chemicals
2) Unstable chemical compound explosions
3) Fires involving combustible materials
4) Unintentional emissions from industrial processes
5) Explosive gas combustion
6) Combustion of natural gas
7) Combustion of organic chemicals
8) Ignition of stored explosives
9) Toxic and/or hazardous substance combustion
11) Combustion of high-energy materials
12) Improper disposal of chemicals
13) Improper chemical handling
14) Improper chemical transportation
15) Use of improper methods of handling
16) Inadequate ventilation
17) Human error
18) Improper container handling
19) Misuse of equipment
20) A combination of multiple factors, like a leaky pipe leading to a tank holding liquid hydrocarbons, can result in an accident.
The Benefits of Chemical Safety Training:
Chemical safety is different from worker safety. Worker safety is intended to ensure that workers engaged in activities that pose a potential health or safety risk have the training and skills necessary to safely perform their jobs. Chemical safety training is intended to ensure that chemical facilities, manufacturers, and businesses have the trained employees needed to handle all of the chemicals they handle and that all of their employees are knowledgeable about the chemical processes involved. Chemical safety training has many benefits.
- It improves knowledge and adherence to safer practices and reduces exposure to chemicals.
- Chemical safety training is essential for protecting human health and safety from potential hazards posed by chemicals, in manufacturing or other industries.
- It not only ensures the health and safety of all those who work with chemicals, but it also aids in the development and sharpening of necessary skills.
Who needs Chemical Safety Training?
A chemical explosion will cause significant damage to buildings and the equipment inside them, as well as injury to humans and animals in the vicinity. Professionals from chemical industries, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing industries, hospitals, the healthcare sector, power plants, petrochemical plants, safety professionals, supervisors, and so on, can take the course.
A Chemical safety training covers the following:
- An Introduction to Chemicals and their Physical Forms
- Different types of chemicals and their risks
- Risks associated with handling chemicals
- Identification of hazardous substances at work through classification
- Identifying and eliminating hazardous activities in the workplace
- Assess the risks associated with hazardous substances
- Chemical exposure management
- What should you do in the event of an unintentional spill?
- What should you do if there is a chemical emergency?
- Preventive measures for hazardous materials incidents
- Use of hazard identification tools such as HAZOP (hazard and operability study), to mitigate risks
- A description of personal protective equipment (PPE) and its uses
- Methods of industrial hygiene standard description
- Chemical analysis and interpretation
- Implementation of spill containment kit
- Maintenance of plant facilities
- Compliance with existing rules and regulations
- Emergency preparedness
With the increasing complexity of chemicals, new chemicals are introduced daily into various industries, and the risks involved become increasingly difficult to control and manage safely and efficiently, while maintaining profitability and customer satisfaction at all times, even when operating under difficult conditions, such as emergency situations or during high-volume periods like holidays or festivals when business is busier than usual, etc.
Our trainers are industry professionals with years of experience in Chemical Safety Training at all levels and in various industries, ranging from large multi-national corporations to small start-ups in various sectors of the economy and work environment. Our Chemical Safety Awareness Training Course is designed to help businesses achieve their goals of having effective, safe workplaces and protecting employees from injury or illness caused by hazardous chemicals.