Safety and health in the use of chemicals at work

From the International Labour Organization Website:


Safety and health in the use of chemicals at work

This report for the 2014 celebration of the World Day for Safety and Health at Work reviews the current situation regarding the use of chemicals and their impact in workplaces and the environment, including various national, regional, and international efforts to address them. The report also presents the elements for establishing national and enterprise level programmes that contribute to ensure the sound management of chemicals at work.

Type: Report
Date issued: 05 February 2014
Reference: 978-92-2-128315-7(print)[ISBN]
Chemicals are essential to modern life, and will continue to be produced and used in workplaces. The ILO acknowledges that for an appropriate balance between the benefits of chemical use, and the preventive and control measures of potential adverse impacts on workers, workplaces, communities and the environment the sound management of chemicals is necessary and can be achieved with concerted efforts by governments, employers, and workers and their organizations.

10 Dangerous Chemicals to Ban from your Home

Mother Earth Living ( is a website that I spent a lot of time at. My wife and I are working hard at removing all harmful chemicals from our home and our diet. We eat fresh and local as much as possible (By the way, if you’re interested in fresh produce that’s locally grown, check out your farmer’s market and/or go to Full Circle. My wife and I live pretty far out in a rural setting. If we can find a place to pickup, you can to. I won’t go into everything about why they are great, just check it out for yourself. If you do sign-up, mention Rob Vajko and I’ll get $10.00 off my next order). We also have gone all natural with our cleaning stuff (Enjo microfiber cleaning clothes and Melaleuca will help you get there if you’re interested).

Unfortunately, that isn’t all there is to living chemical free. Many of the “stuff” that makes up our daily life is also harmful. Most carpets and curtains have been sprayed with chemicals to make them flame retardant and these chemicals have been proven to be carcinogens (you best bet is to tear out all your carpets and put in hardwood floors).

Okay, sorry, this is a topic I’m passionate about so I tend to get carried away. All of the above was intended to point you to an article by Mother Earth Living entitled “10 Dangerous Chemicals to Ban from your Home” so check it out at and start reducing your chemical exposure.

Are you trying to remove chemicals from your environment? Share your ideas and projects with us. We’d love to hear how you’re doing it!

The 5 Stupidest Chemicals that shouldn’t be in Your Home from th e NRDC website

From the Natural Resources Defense Council Website, “The 5 Stupidest Chemicals that shouldn’t be in Your Home

1. Antibacterial Products
Did you know, for example, that the FDA itself has actually admitted that triclosan (the main ingredient in antibacterials) is no more effective than hot water and soap? Don’t believe me? Read about it here. Meanwhile, although still allowed and widely used, triclosan is known to cause a whole host of health problems.

2. Toxic Flame Retardants
The crazy thing about these fire retardant chemicals that your furniture, carpet and drapes are saturated with, is that they don’t actually work except to poison you.

3. Pesticides on your Pets
It’s that time of year when your pets start to bring home more and more fleas, but putting a flea collar on your pet only exposes you and your children to chemicals that have been linked to a slew of health issues.

4. Toxic Lawn Care Products
Grass food, fertilizer and weed killers typically contain chemicals they have been linked to reproductive issues and cancer. Kids and pets play on that lawn and bring the chemicals inside the house where it can stay in the carpet for months, continually poisoning them.

5. Toxic Pesticide in Children’s Shampoo
A co-worker of mine just got back from a business trip to find that her daughter had lice. An all to common occurrence as many parents will tell you. But did you know that California has already banned lindane, the active ingredients in most anti-lice shampoos?

Check out “The 5 Stupidest Chemicals that shouldn’t be in Your Home” to learn more, including how to use natural, non-chemical solutions, as well as to download “Your 2013 Spring De-Tox To-Do List” and “Fact Sheet

Get the right can for the right liquid

Came across this on the Justrite website yesterday and thought it might be of use to you all…

Those of you who follow my blog know that I don’t use it as a glorified commercial for our eCommerce website. I believe in providing good, accurate, up-to-date information to build trust and help everyone be just a little safer. The rest will take care of itself as experience has shown. However, it wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense to provide you with information like this and not let you know where you can get the can that you might need so if you need to order a Justrite can, you can visit our material handling page or, if the one that you need isn’t there call us at (800) 213-7092 or email me at



Top Ten Things to Watch for at Home # 9

9. Under the sink

It really isn’t very smart, we collect all the most dangerous chemicals and put them down low where kids can get to them.

The truth is that most of us keep bleach, and all kinds of dangerous cleansers and detergents under the bathroom and kitchen sink. Children as young as those barely beginning to crawl can open these cabinets. To them it just looks like lemonade, ice-tea or Kool-Aid.

The Fix

  1. Obviously the first thing to do is to install child locks on all cabinets and drawers that children might get into. They are very inexpensive and easy to install and can literally save a life.
  2. The next solution is to make sure that the bathroom doors are kept closed when small children are present. The bathroom is simply too dangerous a place (razor blades, cleaners, detergents, toilets, bathtubs, etc…) to allow children to play in.
  3. The not so obvious fix but one that I personally recommend highly, is to simply get rid of all those chemicals. Chemical cleaners and detergents are not only dangerous for small children who might ingest them but also for you and everyone else. Additionally they are extremely dangerous to the environment. There are not only alternatives to chemical cleaners but these alternatives actually clean better. If you honestly are willing to look into it, you’ll be amazed to find that most of the cleaners you are using aren’t doing as good a job as you think that they are. Most surfaces that have been cleaned with cleansers so bacteria count to be right back to what it was prior to cleaning within 1 hour of cleaning.

    Three things are necessary for bacteria and germs to proliferate: Moisture, food and warmth. Unless you can completely remove one or more of these elements bacteria and germs will simply reproduce and they are better at reproducing than bunny rabbits are. Rather than try to explain cleaning without chemicals to you, I am going to refer you to and let them show you (By the way, although I use Enjo at home, I get no commissions from any sales of Enjo products. I am not endorsing their products for commercial gain. I simply know that it work and works well. We have eliminated all cleansers and cleaning chemicals from our home). Right on the homepage of you can see what I am talking about.

Have you found other ways to eliminate or reduce the chemicals in your home? Share them with us!

16 new chemicals added to the toxic list

  • 1-amino-2,4-dibromoanthraquinone
  • 2,2-bis(bromomethyl)-1,3-propanediol
  • Furan
  • glycidol
  • isoprene
  • methyleugenol
  • o-nitroanisole
  • nitromethane
  • phenolphthalein
  • tetrafluoroethylene
  • tetranitromethane
  • vinyl fluoride
  • 1,6-dinitropyrene
  • 1,8-dinitropyrene
  • 6-nitrochrysene
  • 4-nitropyrene

The following list of chemicals and compounds have been classified as “reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogen” and have, as such, been added to the EPCRA section 313 list of toxic chemicals.

Want to find out if any of the chemicals in your home or workplace are listed as toxic? You can search by chemical on the CDC NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards.

GHS is going to mean a whole lot of work

In case you aren’t familiar with it GHS stands for Global Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals. What we are essentially talking about here is a standardization of all MSDS sheets, not only nationally (within the US) but internationally as well. This means that if I produce anything that has an MSDS sheet associated with it I’m going to have to redo that MSDS sheet (as well as the labels that go on all the products) to conform to the new GHS standard.

Because different countries have different safety standards and requirements, the old MSDSs will have to be updated to give the type of information that each country requires. In the words of the United States Department of Labor “OSHA’s proposal to adopt the GHS will not change the framework and scope of the current HCS but will help ensure improved quality and more consistency in the classification and labeling of all chemicals. This will enhance worker comprehension, resulting in appropriate handling and use of chemicals.” In other words, not necessarily new information, just better information and consistency across the board for all chemicals.

What does this mean?

  • 40 million workers are going to be affected by this change in the US alone
  • It will impact some 5 million workplaces
  • It will require changes and rewriting of some 1 million documents
  • It will cost $11 million a year to update all the MSDS sheet (for a total of 3 years)
  • It will cost $42 million a year to retrain workers on the new standard

While this may sound like a lot of money, OSHA estimates that the new standard will save 43 lives and prevent 585 injuries and illness a year for an annual savings of $754 million a year.

Take heart if you are in one of these categories, this isn’t going to happen overnight. The proposed time frame at this point in time is 3 years to complete compliance. That should give you a little time to get things straightened out.

You can view “Facts on Aligning the Hazard Communication Standard to the GHS” on the OSHA website.

The Safe Chemical Act of 2010

Do you know what your odds of being diagnosed with cancer are? What about your odds of dying of cancer? According to the National Cancer Institute 41% and 21% respectively. The question that immediately begs to be asked is “why so high?”

A lot of very credible research points to the roughly 80,000 chemicals that show up in pretty much everything around us. One would think that most, if not all, of these chemicals would have been tested and found to be safe before they were allowed to be used. One, however, would be wrong… very wrong! Of these 80,000 chemicals only about 23% of them have been tested to find out how safe they are. The rest (some 62,000) have no health information at all (See this article in the Baltimore Sun for more information).

A new legislation, the Safe Chemical Act of 2010, is looking to change this sad state of affairs, with a radical revamping of how chemicals are evaluated and analyzed for safety and health. It would also seek to phase out known carcinogens and other persistent, bio accumulative toxins (PBTs) like lead and mercury.

While I certainly applaud this new legislation and pray that we would have the courage and tenacity to do it right, one can only wonder how effective it will be will so much money backing these chemicals companies and those who use these chemicals. This doesn’t seem to me to be something that we can slowly work to resolve. It is already at a crisis point and each and everyone of us is going to be directly affected.

Hazardous Chemicals Checklist

Appendix A

Hazardous Chemical Exposure Checklist

Hazardous Chemical Exposure
Are employees aware of the potential hazards and trained in safe handling practices for situations involving various chemicals stored or used in the workplace such as acids, bases, caustics, epoxies, phenols, etc.?
Is employee exposure to chemicals kept within acceptable levels?
Are eye-wash fountains and safety showers provided in areas where corrosive chemicals are handled?
Are all containers, such as vats, storage tanks, etc., labeled as to their contents, e.g., “CAUSTICS”?
Are all employees required to use personal protective clothing and equipment when handling chemicals (gloves, eye protection, respirators, etc.)?
Are flammable or toxic chemicals kept in closed containers when not in use?
Are chemical piping systems clearly marked as to their content?
Where corrosive liquids are frequently handled in open containers or drawn from storage vessels or pipelines, are adequate means readily available for neutralizing or disposing of spills or overflows and performed properly and safely?
Are standard operating procedures established and are they being followed when cleaning up chemical spills?
Are respirators stored in a convenient, clean and sanitary location, and are they adequate for emergencies?
Are employees prohibited from eating in areas where hazardous chemicals are present? Is PPE used and maintained whenever necessary?
Are there written standard operating procedures for the selection and use of respirators where needed?
If you have a respirator protection program, are your employees instructed on the correct usage and limitations of the respirators? Are the respirators National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) – approved for this particular application? Are they regularly inspected, cleaned, sanitized and maintained?
If hazardous substances are used in your processes, do you have a medical or biological monitoring system in operation?
Are you familiar with the threshold limit values or permissible exposure limits of airborne contaminants and physical agents used in your workplace?
Have appropriate control procedures been instituted for hazardous materials, including safe handling practices and the use of respirators and ventilation systems?
Whenever possible, are hazardous substances handled in properly designed and exhausted booths or similar locations?
Do you use general dilution or local exhaust ventilation systems to control dusts, vapors, gases, fumes, smoke, solvents, or mists that may be generated in your workplace?
Is operational ventilation equipment provided for removal of contaminants from production grinding, buffing, spray painting, and/or vapor degreasing?
Do employees complain about dizziness, headaches, nausea, irritation, or other factors of discomfort when they use solvents or other chemicals?
Is there a dermatitis problem?
Do employees complain about dryness, irritation, or sensitization of the skin?
Have you considered having an industrial hygienist or environmental health specialist evaluate your operation?
If internal combustion engines are used, is carbon monoxide kept within acceptable levels?
Is vacuuming used rather than blowing or sweeping dust whenever possible for cleanup?
Are materials that give off toxic, asphyxiant, suffocating, or anesthetic fumes stored in remote or isolated locations when not in use?
Are there other issues?

Information courtesy of the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety & Health Administration.