This week (March 18 – 24, 2018) is Poison Prevention Week, which makes it the perfect occasion to hold a safety meeting on preventing poisoning on the job and at home. On September 26, 1961, the 87th United States Congress passed a joint resolution requesting that the President of the United States proclaim the third week of March National Poison Prevention Week. On February 7, 1962, President John F. Kennedy responded to this request and proclaimed the third week of March as National Poison Prevention Week.
To raise awareness in your workplace about poison prevention, host toolbox talks and pass out educational materials about how to prevent poison exposure in the workplace. Make sure your employees are trained on what to do with hazardous chemicals in the workplace and how to treat exposure.
Unprotected exposure to many substances found in the workplace and in the home can lead to poisoning. Many people believe that falling victim of poisoning is a lot hard than it actually is. They feel that they have to actively ingest poison in order to feel its effects. However, it is not that hard to be exposed, since poisons have three easy routes into the body:
- Inhaling hazardous airborne vapors, dusts, fibers, etc., can cause health effects ranging from headaches, nausea, and respiratory problems to far more serious, sometimes even fatal ailments.
- Skin and eye contact can irritate or burn and may cause serious eye damage, recurring allergies, or a variety of other problems. Some poisons could also enter the bloodstream through the skin, which could lead to very serious health problems, such as organ damage.
- Swallowing a poisonous substance could occur unintentionally if it gets on food, a coffee mug, or even hands. With some poisons, swallowing even a small amount could cause health effects.
Workers exposed to poisons in the workplace can spread the poison to their families if they are not careful. Studies have uncovered examples of family members becoming ill when workers unknowingly brought hazardous substances home from work on their clothes, bodies, tools, and lunchboxes.
To prevent workplace poisoning incidents, take steps such as:
- Ventilating work areas where hazardous substances are used and stored.
- Enclosing hazardous operations to prevent dangerous vapors from escaping into the air employees breathe.
- Restricting entry to hazardous areas to authorized, trained, and properly equipped workers.
- Requiring the use of PPE specifically designed to protect you against the specific hazardous substances employees work with.
- Training employees to consult the MSDS and their supervisor for the proper PPE and work practices for handling hazardous substances
- Use proper decontamination procedures can help prevent exposures to poisons and the risk of spreading contamination through the workplace or into the home.
Encourage your friends, family, or constituents to take steps to prevent poisonings. Employers should post important poison control information where it is easily accessed in the event of an emergency situation. National Poison Control Week is about raising awareness and saving lives both in the workplace and in home. Join the conversation on social media using the hashtags #NPPW18, #PreventPoison, or #PoisonHelp.