How to safely handle hazardous materials

New Jersey residents who work around hazardous materials can consider the following 11 safety rules. They are arranged in no particular order, but employers can apply them according to what their workplace is like and what hazards their employees face, adding any of their own. The first rule is that workers should perform all duties just as they have been trained to do. The second rule is to be cautious and think of what can go wrong.

Thirdly, everyone should have the appropriate personal protective equipment. Worn-out or damaged PPE should be replaced. The next two rules concern labels: It’s important to label all materials correctly, putting them in the right containers, and consult the label and the material safety data sheet before using any materials. Materials must only be used for their intended purpose.

When handling contaminated materials, workers should not eat, drink or otherwise put their hands on their face or in their eye. The eighth rule concerns the identification of hazards; again, refer to the material safety data sheet and read the labels. All materials should be stored in a ventilated area, and all incompatibles must be separated.

Workers are encouraged to keep their work area clean to minimize contamination. Lastly, employers must have clear emergency procedures for how to deal with emergencies such as fires and spills and how to evacuate workers.

Should workers suffer an injury, they might file a workers’ compensation claim to be reimbursed for their medical expenses and a percentage of their lost income. Victims who file for this will waive their right to sue their employer, and to receive the benefits, they do not need to prove that anyone was to blame for the accident. However, having legal aid may be helpful, especially when trying to show that all the injuries are accident-related. A lawyer may even assist with an appeal.

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