WorkCover NSW recently issued a safety alert following two incidents in which kitchen workers suffered serious burns after methylated spirits was mistakenly used near a heat source or flame.
In both incidents workers unwittingly used containers thought to contain a different cleaning agent.
In the safety alert, WorkCover NSW reminded Persons Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBUs) and workers of the need to correctly store and use hazardous chemicals in the workplace.
“Work health and safety laws require PCBUs to eliminate risks from the use of hazardous chemicals or, where this is not possible, to control those risks as far as reasonably practicable,” said WorkCover NSW.
Where possible, the safety alert recommended using non-flammable water-based chemicals for cleaning, and to always follow instructions for safe use and handling found in safety data sheets, that should be obtained from the chemical supplier.
PCBUs should also store and use flammable chemicals away from ignition sources such as heat and flames, and provide information, instruction, training and supervision to workers on the safe use of hazardous chemicals in the workplace.
“When using flammable chemicals, make sure you have an appropriate fire extinguisher and fire blanket at the ready and make sure staff know how to use them,” the alert said.
“Always store chemicals in their original container and, if the chemical is poured into another container (such as a spray bottle), make sure that the container is compatible with the chemical and that it is also clearly labeled.”