Restaurant workers in Colorado face many safety hazards, some of which are not as obvious as sharp objects, hot fluids and slip-and-fall accidents. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says the various chemicals used in restaurants pose significant hazards. Employees who want to stay safe and avoid injuries that could result in lost wages might have a better chance if they learn about hazardous chemicals.
Skin irritations can result from exposure to the chemical content in detergents and soaps, along with sanitizers, oven cleaners, degreasers, deep fryer cleaners, floor cleaners and other products. Broken skin could become infected, and severe burns can be caused upon contact with harsh grill and oven cleaners, and the consequences could be even more severe if the chemical gets into the worker’s eyes. Any products containing ammonia or chlorine could cause respiratory problems, eye irritations and skin conditions. Excessive exposure could even be fatal.
OSHA requires all chemicals to be separated from food, utensils, equipment and linens. Employees must be warned about hazards such as the fact that mixing ammonia and chlorine will create an extremely poisonous gas. Safety training must include the importance of reading the labels and following mixing instructions exactly.
Employers must provide employees with the necessary personal protective equipment such as respiratory and eye protection along with protective gloves. However, some people develop allergies to latex. Along with Safety Data Sheets containing required information about all chemicals on site, emergency procedures must be in place, and employees must know what to do in the event of hazardous leaks, spills and other chemical accidents.
Employees of restaurants in Colorado who have to deal with medical expenses and lost wages as the result of chemical exposure can pursue financial relief. However, it is essential to report the injury or illness to a supervisor or employer as soon as possible. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can assist with the navigation of benefits claims.