Some of you are currently working for either a supermarket chain, department store, discount store or fast food restaurant. Whether this is just a temporary gig or stepping stone to a career path within that corporation chances are your bosses haven’t told you about the hazards associated with the receiving, shipping, packaging, storage or use of chemicals.
It’s not really their fault is it? With the constant turnover of store managers who are paid very little for long hours and massive responsibilities, they could never get around to it. They may have handed you a leaflet, posted it in the breakroom or stapled it to your paycheck hoping you would read the information about chemicals but no one has bothered to sit you down and explain it all to you or any other training. Unfortunately, the district/regional manager who oversees your store has many others as well so doesn’t bother to check or follow up on what safety training is being conducted if at all since their main focus and goals for a bonus are tied to coop advertising dollars, the weekly take of cash and profits but not safety.
Back at Corporate Headquarters, everything is status quo as long as all the incoming reports stay positive with goals being achieved and money is being made and to ensure that nothing interrupts that cash flow they are prepared and ready to deal with any public relation issues that may pop with their standard “we take the safety of our employees seriously here at So & So Inc. or “We had thoroughly tested the gizmo and found no serious issues prior to approval by (insert Federal Agency here). Again safety is not important or interesting enough and the lack of training continues and now becomes a hidden problem with the potential for a very bad ending.
This training is not only critical to your health and safety while on the job but for your customers there as well but in that effort to save money and keep costs down the training necessary to ensure you get to go home in one piece is not done. Whatever extra time you have is directed to receiving cases and cases of goods and new SKU to sell that you must store within very little space. To get to older items you need to move new items and since you haven’t had time for a safety meeting you think it’s fine to “temporarily” block emergency exits, fire extinguishers, and circuit boxes. What could possibly go wrong in this store?
One morning you’re downstairs checking inventory when you notice a strong odor in the basement and then see a puddle that has formed around the stack in the corner and upon further investigation, you see it’s leaking from the bottom case. Is it apple cider vinegar or muriatic acid?
If you had had training you would have learned about the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) and the processes and procedures that you must use in the handling, shipping or storage of chemicals as working around them you face a number of possible health hazards if they are not handled correctly and you don’t use the proper PPE when required.
The boring background history: Back in 2012, the United States joined the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of classification and labeling of Chemicals which makes it easier for companies to do business with one another by complying with one system, globally. As of June 1, 2016, it became mandatory for all U.S. companies under Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) or as it’s also referred to HazCom.
You would have also learned that all of the information you need about any chemical or chemical mixture in your facility is included on the Safety Data Sheets (SDS) which has a specific 16 section format and kept in a binder in your facility where it is accessible by ALL any time they need or want too while on the job. The information offered:
- Hazard(s) identification
- Composition/information on ingredients
- First-aid measures
- Fire-fighting measures
- Accidental release measures
- Handling and storage
- Exposure controls/personal protection
- Physical and chemical properties
- Stability and reactivity
- Toxicological information
- Ecological information
- Disposal considerations
- Transport information
- Regulatory information
- Other information
So now, back to the leaking stack of cases sitting in the corner of the basement. If you had had training you would be looking for the SDS binder to find out what is leaking and how to deal with it but with all the overflow of stacks of palletized merchandise, you can’t immediately find the SDS binder since it’s hidden behind a stack that is also blocking an emergency route.
If you had been trained you would have found the labeling on the leaking case would help you to identify the SDS for Chlorine bleach. Which is classified as a hazard as well as Skin corrosion/irritation and Serious eye damage/eye irritation. Further down in the SDS for Chlorine bleach, section 6 – ACCIDENTAL RELEASE MEASURES you’ll see the best way to handle the spill would be to absorb and containerize then wash residual down the proper drains. But remember because it’s an irritant be sure to wear gloves, safety goggles, and respirators before using the spill kit to contain and mop up the spill.
Oh, now where did we move that spill kit too?
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