The arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic sent chills down the spine of many people and organizations. For a moment, everything stopped with fear that people will contract the disease, having seen the numbers of infections and deaths rising so quickly to million globally. Working in offices even became harder. There were worries all over whether the pandemic will, at some point stop, or will continue to ravage the world.
One of the critical things that got serious effects was work. All workplaces shut down, but upon resuming, a lot of caution is in place. All employers must protect their workers from any adverse effect of covid-19, especially contracting the disease. They have put many measures to protect workers from the coronavirus hazards and stop the spread of the disease, among them being:
- Workers wearing facemasks always in the office
- Washing the hands frequently with soap and for at least 20 seconds, or using alcohol-based hand sanitizers every time.
- All employees, getting reminders to stop touching their mouths, eyes, and noses with unwashed or un-sanitized hands.
- People, upholding respiratory etiquette by sneezing or coughing to the elbow or in a disposable material.
- Maintaining a social distance of above one meter
- People with underlying issues like cancer, diabetes, and other diseases working from home. The aged too.
- Always cleaning surfaces and disinfecting the offices frequently.
The employers have also arranged for Covid-19 pre-screening measures before getting to offices, like measuring the temperatures. To ensure only healthy people get to the office. The danger that looms now is the use of chemicals in the offices. The workers use chemicals when cleaning surfaces and disinfecting the offices. Let us see where the danger will be.
The use of chemicals will be another challenge and a covid-19 hazard if people do not take a keen interest in them. Since there is the frequent use of disinfectants at workplaces, EPA has produced a list of disinfectants that they deem to be safe for use. On the other hand, the use of chemicals was less in offices: and not under the control of OSHA’s Hazard Communication (HazCom), as the Consumer Product Safety Act and Federal Hazardous Substance Acts stipulate. Now that things have changed, the employers should maintain the Safety Data Sheets (SDSs), chemical inventory list, do workplace labeling, have a written Hazcom plan, and train workers on Hazcom.
Employers need to provide their workers access to Safety Data Sheets and the chemical inventory while at work. The Safety Data Sheets are so important because: they will give workers insights on how they will handle the chemicals, store them, and the emergency measures that they will take in case there is an accident. Besides, the chemical inventory list will outline the hazardous chemicals in the office and their manufacturers. When the two are available, workers can relate the chemicals list and their respective SDSs for safety. If the information is not available, you will get workers mixing the chemicals, which may cause accidents (dangerous reactions).
In short, an employer needs to ensure the safety of their workers. Before giving them chemicals to use in the office, enrich them. Have the Safety Data Sheets of all chemicals present and the Chemical inventory lists. Strive to meet the employer obligations under HazCom.