Avoiding Exposure to Chemicals For Medical Assistants

Students may come into contact with harmful chemicals when doing procedures that can cause such problems as burns to the skin and eyes. Students will be made aware of these through information packaged with kits and MSDS. If the chemical comes in contact with the skin, it must be washed with water immediately and continued for five minutes. Chemicals that get into the eye must be rinsed for fifteen minutes (unless contradicted on the label). Eyewash stations and showers should be available in case of accidental exposure to hazardous chemicals with a follow-up in the emergency room.

Chemical spills should be carefully cleaned following the procedure for the particular chemical. Spill clean-up kits that consist of various items such as a shovel, cardboard, PPE, neutralizing agent, and/or absorbent material should be available.

Toxic fumes can occur with certain chemicals and certain tests can cause lung irritation and damage. This type of chemical should be handled under a fume hood that will take the fumes away by means of a ventilation mechanism.

A student safety laboratory manual outlining an exposure control plan with emphasis on standard precautions, PPE, work practice controls, lists of hazardous chemicals, and MSDS should be compiled and accessible. Students should be thoroughly familiar with its contents. Additionally, students should be educated as to the location and identification of hazardous chemicals just as employees are.

It is of utmost importance that students learn about and understand the OSHA standards and comply with them. In so doing, they will safeguard themselves from harmful chemicals and bloodborne pathogens.