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Exposure risks and ways by which employees can be exposed to dangerous substances (Part 1)

In our last article we discussed how it is the employer’s duty to make sure that all employees stay healthy whilst at work. So as an employer you need to assess the risks that you may have on site and then introduce safe working practices and equipment as appropriate.

Perhaps one of the first things to do as an employer, is to look at the different substances that your industry use and work out how your employees might be affected by them.

Workers can be exposed to dangerous substances by the following methods:

• Contact with exposed skin

• Inadvertent swallowing of the substance

• The substance comes into contact with the employee’s eyes

• The substance enters the employees body through a cut or skin abrasion

• The substance is inhaled into the lungs as a gas, or dust

When you determine the different substances you use, you can take preventative measures. However we will first discuss the above exposure methods in a little more detail.

Dangerous substance exposure to skin

There are some harmful substances that can seriously damage the surface of your skin, whilst others may pass through the skin surface into your bloodstream. Skin can be contaminated in such ways as by inadvertent splashes with the harmful substance or even through protective gloves if the substance is highly corrosive. Employers must thus provide the employees with appropriate safety equipment and also spill containment equipment so exposure is kept to a minimum.

In the next article we will discuss the other ways by which employees may be exposed to harmful substances.

Previous article Understanding Requirements for Hazardous Substances: Prevention, Storage, and Clean Up

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