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Mining and EnvironmentNews

Importance of Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)

By Abigail Makumbe – Friday 5 June 2020

LOCAL – HARARE (Mining Index) – MATERIAL Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) is a topic many people find boring until there is an accident, then people start to scramble frantically for knowledge and intervention resources to use.

MSDS is a document that contains information which empowers the user to work safely with a product.

It contains more information than provided on the label and is prepared by the supplier. Every hazardous chemical has an MSDS, this is mandatory.

Importance of MSDS
MSDS are there for protection and information. Miners MUST read and understand safety requirements of the chemicals they work with in gold mining.

MSDS includes information on:
• Composition, Information or Ingredients,
• By what route is it harmful: nose, eyes, skin,
• First Aid – what to do if it affects someone,
• Fire-Fighting – how to handle fires that may involve the chemical,
• Accidental Release – what to do if it spills,
• Handling and Storage – special instructions,
• Exposure Controls and Personal Protection – how to limit/minimize chances of harm,
• Disposal Considerations – how and where to throw it away,
• Professional help which you may require to contact in an emergency involving the chemical.

MSDS – where it is found
• MSDS may be requested from supplier of chemicals but nowadays they are also readily available from the internet
• By law, employers are required to make MSDS sheets available to employees and their agents (doctors, lawyers etc.)
• MSDS must be easily accessible to employees.

FIRST-AID procedures
• Water rinsing/flushing following skin/eye contact with a chemical should be for 15 or 20 minutes.
• Flushing with water should start immediately following skin/eye contact with a chemical.
• Ensure safety shower and eye wash are in close to high risk areas
• If victim is seriously affected, take them to clinic/hospital quickly
• Seek medical advice
• To know first aid procedures to follow, essential that you know what chemicals are present
• Check chemical inventory and the First Aid Measures Section on Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs).
• Create a list of chemicals, their properties and their corresponding first aid requirements.
• First Aiders should have the appropriate training and authority (if necessary) to deal with the types of chemicals used at workplace.
• Ensure local clinic/hospital is aware of any hazardous chemicals used/stored on your site that may require special first aid procedures, antidotes or medical follow-up.

Emergence response – spillage
Employees must be:
• Trained in what to do if there is a chemical spill,
• Know the emergency numbers to call for professional help,
• Have spill kits in areas most likely to have spillage,
• Inspect and maintain the spill kits regularly,
• Spill kits must be inspected and maintained in all activity areas,
• Spills should not enter drainage systems (dry rivers and tributaries) or storm water drains,
• Consider barriers (bunding/ridges, concrete floors etc) or other containment systems.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
• It is cheaper to protect your workers than to compensate them after they have an accident on the job.
• Employers and managers will need to provide PPE to the worker at no cost to them and ensure the PPE fits well and is maintained.
• Selection of PPE is according to nature of work to be undertaken, for chemicals MSDS are useful to assist in choosing PPE required.
• Hard hats: to protect the head Lights can be mounted on hard hats to provide working light for the worker.
• Safety glasses: Eye protection, glasses, goggles, full face shield – to protect from dust, dirt chemicals
• Mask/Respiratory protection: to protect from dust exposure.
• Hearing protection: Ear muffs or ear plugs protect against irreversible hearing loss.
• Reflective clothing: workers must be visible to vehicles traveling around the mine site. Includes work suits, coveralls, aprons
• Hand and foot protections: safety shoes, rubber boots, various types of gloves
• PPE must be carefully selected for specific uses.
• PPE should never be shared especially now with the Covid19 scare. ENDS//

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