Importance Of Safety In Chemical Industry Applications
The importance of safety in chemical industry applications can’t be overstated. It’s no exaggeration to say that failure to adhere to safety regulations in the chemical industry can have long-term, catastrophic consequences.
Everyday safety precautions are crucial in any industry. We discuss them often here at the Storee Construction blog. But a driver who fails to check tire pressure or wear a seatbelt, or a worker uncertain about the proper use of protective equipment, pose one kind of threat to life and limb. A hazardous chemical disaster is on a whole other level.
Consider what is perhaps the most famous example of a failure to pay heed to the importance of safety in chemical industries: Bhopal, India.
In that December 1984 tragedy, 93,000 pounds of the toxic chemical methyl isocyanate (MIC, which is used to make pesticide) and additional gases (including chloroform, hydrogen chloride, dimethylamine, and trimethylamine) was released from Union Carbide’s storage areas (their underground reservoirs).
The release killed about 3,500 people instantly — and many thousands more over the next few years. Also, there have been decades of intense suffering, birth defects, health problems, and environmental damage since the disaster.
Bhopal is an extreme example. But it serves as a dire warning that small failures to adhere to safety in the chemical industries can add up to something truly awful and deadly.
There is no room for cost-cutting measures or shortcuts when it comes to chemical safety.
In the aftermath of the Bhopal incident, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published a “Safety & Health Guide for the Chemical Industry.” In it were safety recommendations for disaster planning and implementation, contamination control, and more.
While that document is now dated, it points to an important reminder: Safety and wellbeing for workers is a continuous process. Safety protocols must be constantly reviewed, revised, and implemented as new safety data comes to light.
Chemical industry workers take their jobs and their safety seriously. With the proper training, a job in the chemical industry can be just as safe — often more safe — than any other. Most workers in the chemical industry are more likely to get injured on the way to the job than at the job itself. This holds across many industries.
Facility managers must ensure:
- That workers are trained and retrained as needed
- That they do not become complacent regarding safety procedures
- That everyone is aware of the risk assessments for their particular tasks
- That they maintain and utilize their protective equipment, whenever and wherever necessary.
Chemicals and the chemical industry are a part of life. Thousands of new chemicals enter the marketplace every year. Many of the things we take for granted every day would be unthinkable without the chemical industry. There is no need to fear these chemicals.
But it is necessary to be mindful and to respect their volatility and power to cause irreparable damage. Thus, we should never take the importance of safety in the chemical industry for granted.