These class 6 dangerous goods are classified as toxic and infectious substances hazardous to the human body as they can enter through multiple ways. The most common ways that they are exposed to the human body is when include inhalation, skin contact and ingestion.
Infectious substances are any substances that contain pathogens which are micro organisms that can make a human ill if they get infected. These substances are mainly used in a contained environment such as labs and hospitals, and should always be properly contained due to the contamination risks involved which can cause diseases to spread and may be contagious.
Toxic substances are any substance that have the ability to cause harm, injury or death to a human if they have come in contact with these substances. These Toxic materials are used quite often in the workplace which means that you should make sure you follow all safety procedures when handling and storing them or you could risk the health of everyone including yourself. Exposure to these toxic substances can have short term or long term affects on the health and safety of the workers in the workplace.
Symptoms of Overexposure to common Toxic Substances in the workplace
Here is a list of common symptoms experienced from some toxic substances that are commonly used in the workplace:
- Hydrogen Peroxide - Fatal if swallowed
- Acetaldehyde - Vapors can causes lung injury with delayed effects and can cause severe eye irritation
- I-Limonene - Can cause skin irritation and hives/rashes (in some individuals)
- Acetone - High concentrations may cause headache, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, in-coordination and confusion. Can also irritate eyes and lungs.
- Ispropyl Alcohol - High vapor concentration may cause eye irritations, breathlessness, headache, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, in-coordination and confusion. Can be fatal in high concentrations.
- Methylene Chloride - May cause headache, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, in-coordination and confusion
11 steps to keep yourself SAFE around Toxic Substances!
In your workplace, your employer would have provided you with the necessary safety training in regards to utilizing these toxic substances on a day to day basis at work; if you haven't received any training, please advise your OH&S officer to provide safety training to ensure compliance with Australian Standard (AS) 4452-1997 and most importantly the safety of you and your co-workers.
Please see the list below for the 11 steps to ensure that your work space is safe to handle toxic substances:
- Wear appropriate Personal Protective Equipment such as Respiratory Protection, Goggles, Face Shield, Chemical Protective Clothing, Apron, Safety Boots and Gloves.
- Avoid skin contact and breathing in dust, mist or vapors from toxic substances
- Ensure ventilation is working around the work area.
- Check for any spills or leaks and report them immediately.
- Know your symptoms! Read the labels of the toxic substances so you are aware of any symptoms of overexposure.
- Only bring a day's supply of Toxic Substances into the work area.
- Keep containers closed when not in use.
- Learn how to handle emergencies (fire extinguishers, spill containment, eyewash stations and first aid).
- Proper Equipment maintenance by using Boot Cleaners and Decontamination showers.
- Personal Hygiene such as washing hands thoroughly and dispose of any uncleaned equipment properly (e.g. disposable overalls).
- Make sure you store your Toxic Substances in the correct safety storage cabinets to prevent any spills.
Where do I store my Toxic Substances?
The Australian Standard (AS) 4452-1997 states that you will need to store all toxic substances in an approved Toxic Substances Storage Cabinet with the appropriate signage.
These storage cabinets can be found by following the link button below. Please also see links to all the different kinds of protective gear below to ensure you and your co-workers are protected from protective clothing at all times!