Report by John MacNamara Teagasc Health and safety specialist.

A limited range of Chemicals are now permitted for use with Nursery Production.  It is of the utmost importance that these chemicals be used safety. In many instances, employees use chemicals.
Under  Safety, Health and Welfare at Work legislation it is an employer’s duty to ensure that all necessary facilities, personal protective equipment (PPE),  training, instruction, and supervision are provided to employees. In turn, employees have a duty to conduct their work safely.

An employer has the duty also to prepare a Safety Statement, which covers all hazards including chemicals a risk assessment, and associated control measures to control the hazard.  Injury or ill health due to chemical contamination may be reportable to the H.S.A.
Chemicals pose a risk of bodily injury by absorption through skin, ingestion, or inhalation.
The risk posed by a chemical depends on its chemical properties, particularly its toxicity.    Information on the chemical properties and how to use it safely is available from the product label and the accompanying Safety Data Sheet. Note the chemicals hazard warning symbol, in particular.  Always store chemicals in a safe manner.

The most dangerous time when using a chemical is when pouring or handling the concentrate chemical. Always use the chemical in the manner prescribed and in particular use the required PPE.   PPE includes gloves e.g. nitrile with gauntlets wellingtons, impervious coverall, face shield and respirator to the correct specification.

Make sure to have adequate 1st Aid facilities available.

Store chemicals in a lockable store or vault. This should be remote from flammable material, have a ‘bund’ to prevent any escape of chemical and have a sign indicating that chemicals are being stored. Manage the store carefully, for instance, making sure container caps are secure and that powders are stored above liquids and that product labels are kept intact. Empty container should be triple rinsed before disposal.