What Training Should be Provided for Hazardous Chemicals?

Welcome back, it's Laurie O’Donaghue again from Total Management & Training. Today we are talking about training for hazardous chemicals.  This is an extension of a whiteboard session we did on controls.  We felt we needed to do a short session on what training should be provided to workers in hazardous chemicals.



The first thing we need to consider is who should be provided with that training?  In reality anybody who is going to be using that hazardous chemical or may even be exposed to that hazardous chemical should receive training. 

That is going to include both your workers and your contractors, in its use or exposure. 

For example, a contractor may be coming onto your site and conducting electrical work, but there may be hazardous chemicals within your site and within your processes. He or she needs to be made aware of those particular substances. 

We mustn’t just think about our employees; we must also think about what exposure could be to our contractors.



So how do we do that?

Well the first thing is, obviously, we induct them.  All workers should be inducted into the hazardous chemicals they may be exposed to in the workplace and the same applies to contractors. There needs to be an induction process for both. 

They need to be provided with the information and made aware of where that information is. 

For example, where are the safety data sheets located?  Where are the standard operating procedures or standard work procedures located? 

We show them where they are, and we provide them with some training in it.

The level of training is going to be relevant to the level of risk.  I would suggest in some instances it is simply that the workers are made aware of reading the safety data sheets and reading the labels on the containers, however, there may be situations where the risk is so high to workers, that we consider training with an assessment attached to that training to make sure that they are aware of the hazards and they know how to implement the controls.

I’ve talked about the training, but they also need to be supervised.  Workers and contractors need to be supervised by the organisation to make sure they are complying with all of the controls that have been established for those hazardous chemicals.



Next we need to consider what sort of thing will be included in the training? 

Safe work practices.  Where we have developed safe work practices and safe operating procedures, they should be given training in the operation, not simply told to read them, but given training, and given training by somebody who has an understanding of what the issues are with that hazardous chemical.

Know how to locate and use safety data sheets.  Some safety data sheets can be very complex so it may be necessary to interpret that information into a form that workers can understand how to use it, how to provide first aid or the emergency procedures.

What are the nature of hazards associated with their duties relevant to those hazardous chemicals?  What is their exposure?  What is their potential exposure?

The risk control measures we put in place.  Do they need to use ventilation?  Do they need to use personal protective equipment?   If they are going to be using personal protective equipment, they should be given training in the correct use of that personal protective equipment. 

How do they clean their personal protective equipment? How do they fit their respirator?   That would all be included in the training that the workers require.

What are the emergency procedures? What are we going to do if there is a spill?  How do we respond to that spill? What happens if we have a leak?  For example, if somebody’s working with chlorine gas what are the emergency procedures for workers in the event of a chlorine leak?  Breathing apparatus is required. So again, they must be trained in the procedures, but also in wearing their breathing apparatus.

What first aid is required?  We need to refer back to the data safety sheets in some instances.  Some substances require special types of treatments that deal with an exposure or coming into contact with that substance, so they should be given training in relation to how that is going to be carried out, and obviously incident reporting procedures would be part of that, if there was a hazardous chemicals incident in the workplace.


The training required for hazardous chemicals would be established at the risk assessment and risk management process, but we must make sure that they are given adequate information and training in being able to use those substances safely in the workplace, making sure that they are not going to have any exposures which is going to cause injury or illness.

Thank you and we’ll be back in another session.


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