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  3. Working with chemicals: PPE essentials

Working with chemicals falls under the part of health and safety legislation associated with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health, also known as COSHH, and its 2002 Act of the same name.

When working with chemicals there are a number of different ways that they can adversely affect your health. Chemicals can cause damage by exposure to the skin, by coming into contact with sensitive areas such as eyes, and also through inhalation. There are also associated risks with fire and contamination that also need to be considered.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Selection of PPE
Before you start working with any chemicals, you need to consider what materials are involved in both the work being carried out and the materials used in the PPE equipment itself. Consult the manufacturing information to ensure that the materials are suitable in the situation. You also need to be aware of chemical build up and how this may affect the equipment in the long run. Incorrect selection and use of PPE equipment can lead to exposure to skin, burning and ill health.


The type of PPE you are using should be suitable for the nature of the task being carried out. For example, when working with chemicals that produce a lot of fumes, respiratory equipment will be needed. You also need to make sure all staff are trained in the correct use of all equipment and that all equipment is provided, inspected and replaced as per manufacturers instructions.


Protecting the skin
The four areas that need to be protected most commonly when using chemicals are the hands and forearms, head and torso, face (eyes specifically) and feet. These are the areas that are most susceptible to injury or accident. By using specialist equipment that protects these areas you can reduce the risk. This includes;                                                                                                                                                

Before any use, equipment should be thoroughly checked by employees to be in good condition and suitable for use. Any accidents or spillages need to be reported and the equipment inspected and signed off before further use. Any equipment that is no longer suitable for use should be disposed of in the correct manner.


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