Be Prepared: Establish Emergency Response Plans
Proper lubricant, oil and grease management is essential for businesses because not only do these increase productivity and reduce downtime, they also make the workplace safer. This underscores the importance of Christensen’s services such as site assessments where expert advisors can examine best practices and help our partners establish emergency response plans.
The Importance of Proper Handling of Lubricants
Poor management of lubricants, oils and grease can lead to serious incidents such as:
- Workplace accidents
- Contamination problems
- Environmental pollution
- Utilization of wrong products or grades
- Increased equipment downtime
- Product deterioration
- Stock depletion
- Possible prosecution
Additionally, frequent and prolonged contact with mineral oils can also give rise to skin ailments. This underscores proper handling protocols, as Christensen lubricants present minimal health hazards as long as they are used correctly in the recommended application with proper care taken to keep them off the skin and away from eyes, as well as avoiding ingestion or inhalation of vapors.
Basic Health and Safety Precautions
There are specific health and safety instructions for each Christensen grade, present in product data sheets available from Christensen representatives. Generally, there are universal health and safety protocols, including the following:
- Comply with all safety, hygiene and good housekeeping rules at all times.
- Eliminate unnecessary contact with oil by wearing working overalls, impenetrable aprons, gloves and other protective equipment.
- Wear protective gloves and safety shoes or boots when handling drums and packages.
- Do not wipe skin with dirty rags.
- Orient all personnel on where to obtain first aid and medical attention.
- Orient all personnel with emergency measures.
- Immediately seek first aid for any injury no matter how slight and report any skin complaints.
- Practice regular washing with non-hazardous cleansers, barriers and conditioning creams.
- Regularly change and dry-clean work clothes.
- Never keep oily wipes in overall pockets.
- Use separate lockers for outdoor and working clothes if possible.
- Ensure that the arrangements for extracting fine mists and sprays are functioning properly and used correctly.
- Remove metal particles and swarf from machines with suitable implements instead of by hand.
- Machine splash guards and protection devices must be properly adjusted at all times.
- Hazardous substance marking packages that identify toxic, harmful or flammable products must be obeyed when handling products.
- Spillage must be cleared up with appropriate methods.
In the Event of Spills
Even minor oil spills in the workplace can be dangerous, in fact slip and fall accidents are one of the most common types of work-related injuries. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), slip-and-fall accidents are responsible for 15 percent of all accidental deaths in the workplace, about 25 percent of workplace injuries and more than 17 percent of disabling injuries on-the-job. Additionally, without preparation the workforce might struggle to properly contain oil spills and further risk themselves.
Here are the immediate procedures in the event of a spill:
CONTAIN spillage immediately using non-flammable absorbents. Sand or earth can be used during emergencies.
DO NOT wash spills into drains or watercourses, and if lubricants do enter drains or watercourses the local Water Authority must be advised immediately.
COLLECT the absorbent-oil mix into suitable receptacles and dispose via licensed waste contractors.
Packaged lubrication oil and grease are not serious fire hazards, but most lubricants have the potential for combustion and explosion in certain circumstances. The hazard is mainly dependent on the flash point of the specific product.
Lubricants with flash points less than 55 degrees Celsius should be in closed containers away from heat in locations with good ventilation. When these products are used in open tanks, the latter must be well-hooded, well ventilated, and earthed to prevent static sparks. The tank should have light covering when not in use.
Products with flash points of 55 degrees Celsius or higher generally do not require special fire precautions but storage areas should be away from heat whenever possible.
Lubrication oil is potentially more dangerous when in conjunction with other more flammable materials. Oil-soaked sawdust, rags or cleaning paper must not accumulate. If soaked with fatty oils these materials can ignite simply by coming into contact with high temperature steam pipes, for example.
Oil stores must have CO2, dry chemical or foam fire extinguishers as well as sand-filled fire buckets. Do not use water for suppressing fires as burning lubricants may float on the surface and spread further. It is imperative to train staff on the proper selection and use of the correct types of extinguishers.
Lubricant stores must be non-smoking areas.
In the event of a fire, call the fire brigade.
Managing lubricant, oil and grease properly – including establishing emergency response plans – contribute to safe, efficient and productive workplaces. Putting these procedures in place minimizes risks to the workforce, business operations and assets, as well as prevents accidents. Interested in comprehensively upgrading workplace protocols or improving your lubricant management programs? Reach out to Christensen today, we meet the needs of clients in Washington and across the Pacific Northwest including Oregon, Idaho, and Montana.