Responsibilities of Alabama’s chemical industry to workers

Products made in Alabama add substantially to the state’s economy through employee wages. According to the Alabama Department of Commerce, chemical production is one of the top industries in the state, with over 200 companies supplying jobs to more than 9,000 workers.

Companies that manufacture chemicals have some unique responsibilities to their employees. When working with chemicals, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration notes that employees are exposed to some notable workplace hazards. The first responsibility of employers is to eliminate exposure through engineering controls or safe practices. When exposure is inevitable, employers are required by OSHA to ensure that workers are educated as to the danger. This includes information about the chemicals themselves and how to interact with them safely.

Employees should understand what personal protective equipment must be worn and its correct usage. In most cases the employer is required to provide this. For example, respiratory protective equipment may be necessary to prevent harm from substances that may be inhaled. Many substances have a set permissible exposure limit that includes information about the maximum amount of the chemical a person may safely be subjected to, as well as the time limit for safe proximity to the substance.

Every chemical should have a label with pertinent information on it, and the manufacturer is required to create this after conducting the appropriate evaluations for safety. Each substance that an employee or a customer comes into contact with should also have a corresponding safety data sheet that includes all hazards associated with the chemical to prevent workplace accidents.

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