April 5, 2016 | Joe Geng |

6 Reasons to Transition to Safer Chemicals



Transition to Safer Chemicals in the Workplace
 

Until every workplace is hazard free, gloves will remain a vital part of PPE.
According to an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) report on chemical safety, moving from hazardous substances to safer ones is “the most effective method to eliminate or reduce adverse health and safety outcomes in the workplace.” It’s more effective than even the best PPE that you can buy.

If that’s not enough to change your mindset about hazardous chemicals, here are 6 reasons why it’s the smartest choice that you can make.

 

1. Improve Worker On-the-Job Health and Safety:

Each year 190,000 incidents of illness and 50,000 deaths occur annually. But according to OSHA, the numbers are likely higher. This is due to the length of time that it sometimes takes for an illness or injury from chemical exposure to manifest.

Another reason for underreporting is the lack of correlation between an illness and chemical exposure. Combined, those two reasonings make a strong case for underreported illness and injury, but switching to safer chemicals could make all the difference.

 

2. Reduce Liability Costs to the Business:

When a business uses hazardous chemicals, OSHA says that there are “substantial direct, indirect, and liability costs to businesses and society.” Transitioning to safer chemicals lowers those costs, while also improving areas such as performance efficiency, corporate stewardship and also industry leadership.

According to an American Industrial Hygiene Association study performed in 2008, implementing safety on the front end is a better choice than using safety gear and implementing safe practices on the back end. In other words, it’s simply better business to reduce or eliminate altogether the possibility of worker exposure to hazards than to protect workers from hazards that have already been implemented.

 

3. Make Better Informed Chemical Substitutions:

It’s always best practice to consider a change thoughtfully than to be forced into a change at the last minute. Many of the most hazardous chemicals that workers come into contact with already have a safer alternative chemical that could be used. If a company makes plans using research and careful consideration, substitutions are less likely to be new hazards all their own.

“Informed Substitution,” says OSHA, “can protect workers and identify replacements that are unlikely to cause more problems or be a target of future regulatory efforts.” This approach analyzes all of the substitution options and arrives at the best and safest one, reducing the likelihood of jumping from the frying pan and into the fire.

transition_pyramid
 

It’s a steep hill to climb, but we’re moving up OSHA’s pyramid toward the top.

4. Comply with Local and National Regulations:

Some guidelines are already in place to regulate the use of hazardous chemicals in the workplace. The OSHA Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, and the EPA’s Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 both manage the use of hazardous chemicals, but now the laws are becoming stricter. By instituting a policy of reduced chemical hazards, a company can reduce or eliminate the rest of noncompliance.

New international, federal and state regulations require the disclosure of chemical information by the manufacturers. More restrictions on hazards chemicals and emissions are surely on their way, says OSHA. Noncompliance can cost a company a substantial amount in fines, and perhaps even more in lost sales. By complying with what’s already implemented now and also keeping an eye toward the future, businesses can stay in business. In California, a sustainable future where hazardous chemicals are dramatically reduced or eliminated is the goal, and other states are following, according to U.C. Berkeley.

 

5. Produce Fewer Hazards for Consumers and the Environment:

Whether a business uses hazardous chemicals in the manufacture of a product for consumers or adds the chemical to a product intended for consumers, transitioning to safer chemicals can help protect the environment from unnecessary hazards and also keep the buying public safer. There’s really no end to the people protected by safer alternatives.

Additionally, businesses can enjoy the advantage of a new branding, says OSHA. With dangerous substances removed from any work process, the business might become eligible for a green or eco-friendly designation and company image. Using an increasingly effective model, OSHA hopes to make great strides in protecting workers. Step one in their “increasing effectiveness” pyramid is using protective gear to help keep workers safe from exposure. Step two is implementing controls in the workplace. Step three takes steps to control chemical exposure in the workplace. And by step 4, hazards are eliminated so that exposure is a nonissue.

 

6. Reduced Costs for PPE:

Whenever a worker is at risk for contacting a hazardous chemical, personal protective equipment is required to keep him or her safe. Chemical-resistant gloves help protect workers from contaminating hands or absorbing chemicals, and ultimately from developing a chemical-related illness or injury.

With fewer hazardous chemicals, workers need less sophisticated PPE. Workers can experience a chemical burn if there is no chemical present that’s capable of burning. And if the hazard is eliminated entirely, so might the need for advanced chemical resistant gloves.

The way of the future is greener, cleaner and less of a hazard to the environment, consumers and for workers. After generations with barely a consideration for producing and using hazardous chemicals, the United States and the world are not just aware of the dangers, they’re doing something about them.

Change won’t happen overnight. It never does, but at least there is a heightened awareness now and the beginnings of improvement. And until hazards are eliminated, Superior Glove can help keep everyone in the workplace safer.

Looking for reliable gloves that’ll protect your hands from a wide range of dangerous chemicals? Our flock-lined NIF3018 gloves should do the trick. Did you know that we offer free samples to qualified businesses? Click the button below to request a pair now!

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Joe Geng
About Joe Geng
Vice President of Superior Glove

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