Although the corrosive action of chemicals can vary, the safety precautions required for each should be the same when they are handled. The following are some important points to consider when working with any cleaning products or chemicals in the workplace:
- Many substances are harmless enough by themselves, but when combined, they release toxic fumes. For example, two common household cleaning agents, ammonia and bleach, will produce toxic chlorine gas when mixed together.
- Do not mix any chemicals found on the job site unless you are absolutely certain that the combined mixture will not be harmful.
- Sometimes chemical changes are triggered by heat or radiation. For example, many oven cleaners produce fumes that are toxic when heated.
- All chemicals should be stored in their original containers and the containers should be labelled and sealed.
- If you do need to transfer a cleaning product into a smaller container for use, ensure it has the appropriate workplace label.
- Whenever there is the slightest risk of being splashed by these substances, wear safety glasses.
- Wear rubber gloves if your hands are likely to come in contact with a chemical.
- Rinse off and neutralize any spills on your personal clothing. If the spill is large, the clothing affected should be taken off to prevent any injury.
- Corrosive chemicals and flammable substances should be used only in well-ventilated areas. Avoid breathing the fumes.
- Many cleaners and some food products come in aerosol cans that use pressure to release their contents. These cans should not be kept near heat or exposed to flames, as the containers are explosive and the residual contents are often highly flammable. When the contents are finished, the empty cans must be recycled appropriately.