The chemical manufacturing industry is subject to many serious hazards. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) became involved in the standardization and regulation of chemical management after a disastrous chemical accident in Bhopal, India, killed 3,000 workers in 1984. Though there are many risks present in this industry, it is subject to mindful standards that have kept dangerous incidences low. The injury/illness rate for the chemical production sector is 4.8 per 100 workers, which is well below the national average of 7.1 per 100.
By following the appropriate OSHA requirements, companies in the chemical manufacturing industry can ensure that workers are well-protected throughout the production process.
The Hazard Communication Standard
The Hazard Communication Standard specifies that employees have the right to know what chemicals they're working with at all times. Employers must identify all hazardous chemicals in the workplace and share this information with employees. In addition to knowing the name of all hazardous chemicals present on-site, employees should also know the dangers of these chemicals and what protective measures are necessary for handling them. The employer must obtain labels and Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) for all such chemicals to provide this information.
Standard on Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals
The Process Safety Management (PSM) Standard regulated by OSHA sets forth the necessary processes for activities which involve the use, handling, manufacturing, storage, or movement of hazardous chemicals. The standard applies to:
- All chemicals listed in Appendix A of the OSHA Standard.
- Flammable liquids and gases in quantities of 10,000 pounds or more.
- The process activity of manufacturing pyrotechnics and explosives.
OSHA recognizes that processes will vary by company, but requires that all processes are updated and evaluated at least once every five years. Process equipment must undergo a full compliance audit at least every three years. Companies must investigate hazardous instances within 48 hours of the occurrence.
Where the PSM Standard is in place, employees must undergo training that provides an overview of the process, a review of the necessary operating procedures, information on health and safety hazards, details on emergency operations, and coverage of safe work practices.
As part of the Hazard Communication Standard, employers are required to put a training plan in place that informs employees on all necessary operations in areas where hazardous chemicals are present. As part of this training program, employees learn about the measures they can take to protect themselves, as well as the measures that employers are taking to keep them safe. This includes details on engineering controls, safe work practices, properly reading labels, how to use MSDSs, and the use of protective equipment. Employees must also learn how to detect hazardous chemicals by recognizing the smell or appearance of such.
Proper documentation and organization are key to meeting OSHA's disaster prevention requirements. Chemical manufacturing software specialized for this industry can help businesses record formulas, monitor shelf life, and manage potency for these potentially hazardous substances.
Though chemical manufacturing requires a great deal of mindfulness, this needn't be a hazard-ridden industry. Proper management can keep everyone safe.