Reducing the Risk of Hazardous Chemicals
While all industries face risks through their daily operations, those risks can be substantially higher for those that routinely handle hazardous chemicals. Chemical-related incidents not only put employees at risk of injury and illness, but it can also result in serious environmental damages as well. In order to minimize the risks in these settings, OSHA set forth process safety standards establishing the management of highly hazardous chemicals to ensure that the proper steps are taken to prevent the release of toxic, reactive, flammable or explosive chemicals that can create a possible catastrophe. This approach requires that companies and workers take extra and well-documented steps to identify, evaluate and control the hazards in the workplace.
Before conducting any process hazard analysis, employers develop a compilation of written process safety information to identify all potential hazards. This includes information pertaining to hazardous chemicals used or produced and information about the technology and equipment used. Next, employers perform an initial process hazard analysis to prioritize the order in which the process analyses should be conducted by using conditions such as the extent of process hazards, number of affected employees and operating history of the process. Employers then consult with employees to ensure everyone understands the potential hazards and the safe practices that should be used in the workplace.
Once an analysis has been completed, employers must establish a system to promptly address analysis findings and recommendations so that resolutions are put in place in a timely manner. Timeliness, accuracy and completeness are all essential in the reporting of these analyses. Not only does manual reporting take more time because the information must be processed before being sent to a supervisor or safety professional, there is also the risk that the information may be incomplete or lost. Many organizations have begun managing these processes using software systems in order to save time and ensure compliance. By using systems that include a mobile app to complete these process analyses, companies are able to easily access all reports and inspections and provide the information instantly to all supervisors. Software can also help verify that all required parts of the analysis are completed before they submit the form.
In the case of an incident, a thorough investigation must be conducted as soon as possible to understand the causes of the incident and provide recommendations to prevent future ones. Reports must include descriptions of the incident, factors that contributed to the incident and recommendations to prevent future incidents. The reports can include pictures and videos to provide further information that would not be available on a paper report. The reports can be accessed instantly by safety professionals, allowing for quicker resolutions and corrective actions in response to the incident.
Employee participation is key to ensure that these process hazard analyses are effective. One way to encourage greater participation is by simplifying the process. By digitizing the process analysis through mobile software, employees can easily conduct reports or analyses directly from their mobile devices and eliminate the hassle of finding, completing and processing numerous paper forms.
By Leah Carson
June 6, 2019
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