Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) has recently joined the rest of the world to mark the World Day for Safety and Health at Work in a bid to raise awareness of the dangers of chemical use in the workplace.
Organized by the International Labour Organization (ILO), the World Day for Safety and Health at Work takes place each year on April 28 to promote the prevention of occupational accidents and diseases globally. The day is an awareness-raising campaign intended to focus international attention on emerging trends in the field of occupational safety and health and on the prevalence of work-related injuries, ill health, diseases and fatalities. This year’s theme is “Safety and health in the use of chemicals at work”.
Accidents through improper handling of chemicals, can lead to temporary or permanent disabilities, and are frequent occurrences in workplaces worldwide. In the healthcare sector, chemical use is necessary as there are often no alternatives.
HMC’s Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Department Safety Instructor and Acting Head of Risk Assessment Leo Sigua Dote said: “HMC is ensuring safe chemical use among its entire staff through the implementation of Safety Plan SA 1054 (Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Plan).”
In addition, HMC staff is trained on the safe handling of chemicals through a corporate general orientation program, mandatory annual re-orientation and continuous education, routine inspection and risk assessment. “Chemicals found at the workplace can be both corrosive and harmful. We ensure proper handling, storage and disposal of chemicals, even those that are already expired are well taken care of in compliance to Qatar Laws of Chemical Management,” Dote stated.
Chemical-related accidents involving staff at HMC have reduced tremendously over the past few years. “Through our department recommendations and training initiatives on safe chemical use, incidents have gradually lessened and as of today, only a negligible amount of spills are taking place,” Dote added.
Regarding the injuries one can sustain from chemical spills, Dote said it depends on the chemical type involved, suggesting that corrosive chemicals can burn the skin and penetrate tissue causing more harm; irritant chemicals can cause skin irritation; toxic chemicals can be fatal if inhaled or ingested; and carcinogenic chemicals can cause cancer during long term use and exposure.
He suggested that anyone who must deal with chemicals in their day-to-day work should have undergone general orientation prior to using the chemicals.
“In the course of chemical use, adequate information (by reading the chemical safety data sheet) should be available; and every instruction must be carefully followed under adequate supervision. Moreover, donning of appropriate personal protective equipment and the right manner of handling, storing and disposing must be strictly adhered to in order to comply with safe chemical use,” he added.