Safety Tip of the Week – Handling Toxic Materials

Safe handling and work procedures are crucial for workplaces where individuals use toxic materials. It is vital that people working with hazardous materials such as toxics are properly trained regarding the potential hazards.

In General, When Handling Toxic Materials:

  • Use only the smallest amount necessary to do the job;
  • Prevent the release of toxic vapours, dusts, mists, or gases into the workplace air;
  • Wear appropriate personal protective equipment (if necessary) to avoid exposure (eye, respiratory, or skin) or contact with contaminated equipment/surfaces;
  • Be aware of the typical symptoms of poisoning and first aid procedures. Report any signs of illness or overexposure immediately to the supervisor. Depending on the material, medical attention for an exposure may be required even if the exposure did not seem excessive. With some materials, symptoms of a severe exposure can be delayed;
  • Do not return contaminated or unused material to the original container;
  • Ensure containers are clearly labeled and inspect containers for leaks or damage before handling;
  • Keep containers tightly closed when not in use;
  • Ensure suitable emergency equipment for fires, spills, and leaks are readily available;
  • Ensure emergency eyewash/shower stations are readily available and are tested regularly;
  • To prevent spillage, use proper tools to open containers and to transfer material;
  • Pour toxic liquids carefully from the container to avoid splashing and spurting;
  • Avoid any welding, cutting, soldering, or other hot work on an empty container or piping until all toxic liquid and vapors have been cleared; and
  • Maintain good housekeeping (e.g. clean surfaces, no accumulation of dust). 
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