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Caution: Household cleaners at work

By Moly Milosovic (guest blogger)

If you care about your workplace, you naturally do your part to keep it clean and tidy, but the quest for clean and tidy should never overshadow safety.

Recently at my workplace, I was called to the scene of a small puddle left by a toddler who did not make it to the bathroom in time. I wiped it up with a handy disinfectant, but rather than going on to my next task, I decided to be a diligent employee and went over the spot again with another cleaner. Suddenly, the piece of paper towel I was using started to warm up and turned a dark orange-yellow: I had inadvertently caused a chemical reaction!

Cleaners

Never mix household cleaners! In hindsight it seems so obvious, but it is easy to forget that household cleaners, with their colourful bottle designs and their friendly television commercials, are potentially dangerous. In fact, Alberta Poison and Drug Information Services received 2088 calls related to household cleaning products in 2012.

As an employee you can work smart and prevent unsafe chemical reactions by familiarizing yourself with some common chemical knowledge:

  • Do not mix different brands of one type of product. This is what I did by mixing two different disinfectants together, and the consequence can be a serious chemical reaction.
  • Read the fine print. Many containers will tell you the dangers of mixing with other chemicals.
  • Reactions are not always visible. Chemical reactions can result in burns, vapors, or fumes, so read the fine print in case a cleaner should only be used in a well ventilated area.
  • Be aware of improvised cleaners. Vinegar is commonly used as a household cleaner, and it is important to remember that, as an acid, it should not be mixed with other household cleaners.
  • Call Alberta Poison and Drug Information Services with any concerns.

At the end of the work day, if you are aware of the chemicals you interact with and treat them like the powerful chemical agents they are, you will be both a safe and tidy employee – every supervisor’s dream!

Have any experiences you’d like to share? Tell us by leaving a comment, or tweet @HeadsUpAB.

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