More than 50,000 workplace-related fatalities and 190,000 work-related illnesses occur within the US yearly due to exposure to toxic chemicals. OSHA and the US Department of Labor have provided various standards, regulations, and training to help reduce the hazardous exposure to harmful chemicals and toxins at the worksite.
However, the reality is, these toxins and chemicals will always exist on-site as they are vital to a construction job. These chemicals and toxins include PVC(Polyvinyl chloride) used in electrical wiring and pipe coating. And Lead, which is used in plumbing fixtures. That said, prolonged exposure to these toxins can lead to harmful health issues such as cancer, reduced fertility, congenital disabilities, and much more.
In the end, construction sites are amongst the most dangerous places for employees, especially for those who are present on-site every day. So, if you’re someone who works on a construction site day in and day out, you need to be aware of potential toxins and chemicals that can harm your health.
Following are some tips to protect yourself from harmful toxins at the construction site;
Ask your employer for safety gear
Your employer must provide you with safety gear and equipment to keep yourself protected from on-site chemical exposure. Moreover, you need to wear them whenever you are near chemicals at all times.
Your employer should clearly state the location of safety equipment and encourage you to wear it when you report to work. Plus, it would be best to inspect the condition of safety equipment to ensure as well.
However, if your employer doesn’t provide you with the necessary equipment and you end up exposing yourself to toxins, such as asbestos, you will be eligible for a personal injury claim. Hire a competent personal injury lawyer to obtain the settlement results you seek for the damages you incurred.
Keep your workstations clean and organized
Keeping workstations organized and clean helps avoid unnecessary accidents. On the other hand, a dirty and cluttered workstation increases the chances of spilling and chemical mixing.
To prevent this from happening, keep your workstation clean and store chemicals in their designated containers until required. Moreover, dispose of any used chemical in a designated disposal area provided by your employer.
Furthermore, ask your employer to place washing machines on the construction site. Doing so will allow you to clean contaminated clothes, preventing you from taking toxins to your home and exposing your family to potential health hazards.
Store chemicals in the appropriate location
It is vital to assess the location of chemicals and other harmful items on the construction site regularly. For example, verify that chemical containers don’t site near things they can react with. Also, ensure the area where you’ve stored chemicals is well-ventilated and contains an outlet for drainage if a spill occurs.
After all, good ventilation will ensure the air is clean in the area. Moreover, exhaust fans will be needed in the chemical storage facility to ensure proper ventilation.
You can potentially save your and your coworkers’ lives by properly labeling chemical containers. After all, most chemicals seem similar if they aren’t marked accordingly. Moreover, ensure that the labels on every container are easily visible. It should indicate a hazard sign on the container’s exterior.
Furthermore, you should also consult the MSDS(material safety data sheets) before handling chemical containers. Doing so will allow you to know the safety procedures and hazards associated with handling chemical containers.
Take advantage of employer-provided training and resources
Don’t assume that you will know everything related to exposure to chemical spills and harmful toxins. So, it is vital to train yourself thoroughly on the SOPs(standard operation procedures) related to handling chemicals in case of spillage.
Moreover, it would be a good idea to take advantage of employer-funded training programs and resources to know more about particular types of chemicals and the health hazards associated with them.
Doing so will allow you to understand how to use safety equipment to avoid absorption, injection, ingestion, and inhalation of harmful chemicals and toxins.
Ask your employer to implement engineering controls
Engineering control prevents or reduces workplace construction site toxin and chemical exposure tenfold. For instance, ask your employer to invest in mechanical arms or robots to ensure the safe handling of chemicals and toxic materials.
Doing so will keep you and your coworkers from the areas where chemical and toxin exposure will indeed occur. For example, utilizing an automated parts dipper for degreasing construction machine parts over manually dipping them will reduce the chances of exposure to harmful chemicals that might cause damage to your health.
In the end, your safety at the construction site will fall in your hands. Sure, your employer will do their best to provide you with the equipment you need to avoid exposure to harmful toxins and chemicals.
However, you are responsible for utilizing this equipment and safety gear to ensure you remain protected at all times. Moreover, if you think that your employer doesn’t value your safety, consider hiring an attorney to ensure you obtain compensation if an injury occurs due to your employer’s incompetence.