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The purpose of the hazardous chemical program is to put work practices and procedures in place that will protect exposure of restaurant/food workers to potentially hazardous chemicals, such as oven cleaners, floor cleaners, pesticides, disinfectants, drain cleaners, soaps, detergents, and latex.

  • Soaps and detergents may cause allergic reactions and skin irritation.

  • Broken skin from soap or detergent irritation may provide an avenue for infection or injury if exposed to chemical hazards.

  • Drain cleaners, oven cleaners, and grill cleaners solutions and sprays can be caustic and can cause skin burns and eye and skin irritations.

  • Ammonia, used as a cleaning agent, and chlorine solutions, used as a disinfectant in dishwashing, can cause skin, eye, and nose irritations. Caution: Mixing chlorine and ammonia solutions will result in a chemical reaction and may release deadly chlorine gas.

  • Latex gloves, worn to protect the hands from chemicals, may cause skin irritation or allergic reactions in some young workers.

Employer Responsibilities

Follow OSHA standards, including:

  • If hazardous chemicals are used, employers need to implement a written program that meets the requirements of the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) to provide for worker training, warning labels and access to safety data sheets (SDSs).
    • The Hazard Communication Standard ensures employee awareness of the hazardous chemicals they are exposed to in the workplace and how to prevent exposure.
    • Provide SDSs for any hazardous chemicals used in the workplace.
  • Provide appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves, goggles, and splash aprons for employees who handle hazardous chemicals, including dishwashing detergents, pesticides, etc.
  • Provide suitable facilities for quick drenching or flushing of the eyes and body if exposure to injurious corrosive material is possible. Facilities should be located within the work area for immediate emergency use. 

Consider implementing recommended safe work practices, including:

  • Use cleaning chemicals that are not considered hazardous.

  • Consider automating the dispensing of cleaning chemicals whenever possible to avoid employee contact with chemicals.

  • Limit employee contact with dishwashing detergents by providing dishwashing machines with automated detergent dispensers.

    • Workers must still be cautious and use appropriate PPE, such as goggles and gloves when changing out detergent containers.

  • Ensure that chemicals that are not compatible with each other are stored separately (check SDS).

  • Always label cleaning bottles and containers. Never remove products from the original bottle without properly labeling the new container.

  • Store pesticides in their original labeled containers.

  • Avoid storing liquid chemicals on top shelves. Store them on lower shelves.

Employee Responsibilities

  • Read the product label and follow instructions and recommendations listed on the label.

  • Use the least toxic cleaning products possible.

  • Use any PPE equipment provided by your employer (gloves, eye goggles, and special aprons).

  • Be sure you are properly trained in the need for and use of PPE.

  • Use appropriate gloves to protect your hands from chemicals and sharp objects.

  • After removing gloves, wash your hands with mild soap and water, and dry thoroughly.

  • Avoid latex gloves if you have been diagnosed with latex allergy.

  • Ask your employer about possible toxic effects of the chemicals you are required to use. You have the right to read SDSs. SDSs provide employers and employees with information to protect themselves from hazardous chemical exposures and to work safely with chemical products.

  • Do not mix chlorine bleach and ammonia products together. This combination will create a toxic gas.