Every day healthcare workers have the potential of becoming exposed to chemical vapors. Depending on the type of chemical, concentration, ventilation, length of exposure, and task affects the severity of risk and/or injury to the workers, patients, visitors or yourself. This is nothing to take lightly. Equally, it is imperative we not only understand the chemicals we use day and day out, but that we understand the risks, the ways to reduce our risk for exposure through mitigations and any regulation with its use or storage. Also, how we respond if an exposure does occur, needs to also be apart of the plan and training.
Understanding and applying basic safety principles, along with strictly following the manufacturer’s instructions, will help to mitigate becoming exposed to potentially harmful chemicals, in particular, inhalants. This is because not every chemical behaves in the same way.
Some fast facts:
- Some chemical gases require environmental monitoring.
- Some chemicals require monitory of breathing zones, to ensure workings are not exceeding limits.
- Exposure limits vary depending on the chemical.
These are just a couple of facts that can greatly impact how your department or facility plans, monitors and responds to chemical transportation, usage, storage and responds to emergencies of spills and/or exposure.
Keeping your lungs happy (and your whole body) really means keeping yourself current with the chemicals particulars and instructions, general regulations and standards and then following the guidance to a “T”, all of the time. So, read up on the chemicals you use. Review OHSA requirements and make sure you are in complete compliance.
Finally, ask for help if you are unclear about what your responsibilities are…your lungs and everyone else’s you work with or lead may not thank you, but you will know you are doing the right thing.