What to do when Chemical Plant Accidents Happen

One of the causes of chemical plant accidents is the failure of management to educate its workers on how to protect themselves from hazardous substances that are present in the workplace. Accident prevention measures must be in place to avoid occurrence of industrial accidents.

Manufacturing plants that produce cobalt metal and cobalt powder are required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to provide their workers with good quality of personal protective garments and gears to protect them from contacting cobalt metal dust and fume while working. Workers should be informed about the relevance of wearing the protective clothes and equipments by emphasizing that their health and safety are dependent on how they protect their bodies when at work. The management of manufacturing plants should impose sanctions whenever an employee fail or refuse to wear the required clothes and equipments. If management will not impose strictly this particular requirement there will be workers who will attempt to disobey thereby making them prone to chemical plant accidents.

Workers in cobalt producing plants must observe proper hygiene at all times to avoid chemical plant accidents. They are required to wash their faces, hands and arms with soap and water before eating or smoking, before using lavatories or before taking medicine. Workers are not allowed to eat, drink, smoke, take medicine in a place where processing of cobalt metals take place.

A person who accidentally inhales cobalt dusts can become sick because when the dusts enter his lung, they can block the air from entering the lung so the affected person can feel shortness of breath. Cobalt dusts cause coughing and excessive production of mucus or phlegm. Results of chemical accident investigations revealed that continuous exposure to cobalt dusts can prevent a person’s lung to function normally which can lead to interstitial lung disease. More serious effects brought by cobalt dust inhalation are heart attack and thyroid disorders. Also when a person’s skin has a contact with cobalt substance, he is likely to suffer dermatitis. Irritation can be present in areas where parts of the skin rub each other. Further, an accidental intake of cobalt substance can poison a person that can lead to polycythemia and hyperplasia, in which both conditions can primarily affect a person’s bone marrow.

If a manufacturing plant stores other substances particularly strong oxidizing agents, they should be stored separately from cobalt substances to avoid serious or fatal chemical plant accidents. A spontaneous fire may occur when cobalt substance fuses with bromide pentaflouride. If worse comes to worst, explosion may take place. Fire and explosion will not only destroy lives and properties but also the environment. News about latest accidents involving fire pinpointed cobalt powder and fumes to have contributed to large fires that occurred in the USA.

To protect their workers, chemical plants should always follow the recommendations of a government regulatory body like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and adhere to the saying that “an ounce of prevention is equal to a pound of cure”.

 

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