Chemical safety advice during National Farm Safety Week

Employsure Pty Ltd

Wednesday, 19 July, 2017

This week is National Farm Safety Week, so it's a good time to ensure your workplace is compliant, safe and secure when it comes to chemicals on your farm or site.

The agricultural sector uses a variety of pesticides to protect plants, animals and agricultural products from pests and diseases. Many of these pesticides contain hazardous chemicals that can have short- and long-term health effects if not managed safely.

From the beginning of this year, it is compulsory to have hazardous chemicals labelled correctly. Hazardous chemicals manufactured or imported from 1 January 2017 must have safety data sheets (SDS) and labels which are Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of classification and labelling of chemicals compliant, and all workplace chemicals must be classified per the new system.

According to Employsure, the simplest way to stay safe when handling chemicals is to follow these simple guidelines:

  1. USE THE SAFEST: Substitute hazardous chemicals for safer alternatives.
  2. READ THE LABEL: Read your up-to-date safety data sheet and labels, which will tell you all about the chemicals you are working with as well as how to store and handle them safely.
  3. STAY UP TO DATE: Stay in the loop about banned products.
  4. WEAR THE RIGHT GEAR: Wear the right personal protective gear.
  5. CONSIDER THE RISKS: Consider other personnel who might be exposed, eg, via clothing.
  6. COMMUNICATE: Alert workers and family about the risks associated with the chemicals you are using.
  7. SEEK HELP: Encourage workers to visit the doctor if there is a change in health.

“Unsafe chemical storage is an accident waiting to happen,” said Doug Howard, national work health and safety consultant at Employsure. “The laws are stringent and businesses, farms included, must be on top of them to be both safe and compliant.”

Increasing awareness of proper procedures is crucial, and farmers and farmworkers can improve their safety practices by correctly handling materials and inspecting machinery, paying careful attention to instructions and labels on products and equipment, and practising and communicating plans for emergency response.

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