Safetip #60: Implement and Evaluate Chemical Alternatives
OSHA’s Seven Steps for Transitioning to Safer Chemicals
OSHA has developed a 7-step toolkit to help organizations go beyond compliance with OSHA standards, and better protect workers through informed substitution of hazardous chemicals in the workplace. The toolkit can be used by manufacturers using chemicals in their production processes and organizations that use products containing chemicals in their daily operations. The seven steps of the toolkit are the following:
1) Engage: Form a team to develop a plan.
2) Inventory & Prioritize: Examine current chemical use.
3) Identify: Identify alternatives.
4) Assess & Compare: Assess and compare alternatives.
5) Select: Select a safer alternative.
6) Test: Pilot the alternative.
7) Evaluate: Implement and evaluate the alternative.
Monitor and Evaluate the Full Implementation of the Alternative
After piloting and testing the selected chemical alternative, the technological and organizational changes needed to implement the substitute at full scale should be planned. The steps to follow include:
- Developing a step-by-step plan for implementation.
- Documenting the implementation plan.
- Deciding who should be involved in the implementation.
- Communicating the plan to workers.
- Developing and performing the necessary training.
But the implementation is just the start. Organizations must also monitor and evaluate the alternative to make sure it meets objectives. Impacts on the following should be tracked: worker safety and health; performance and efficiency of tasks or processes; sales; and services. The evaluation could also include periodic assessments of hazards, discussions with workers about the impacts of the transition, and evaluations of benefits and any changes in productivity or sales.
Finally, organizations should keep themselves informed of any new alternatives. There may be safer, better performing or less costly innovative chemical alternatives made available on the market in the future.
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