When we set out to develop Cleanskin, we wanted to make a product that was safe. The feedback overwhelmingly from cellar staff was they’d like to use non-dangerous goods. This made perfect sense to us and we know that everyone needs to be vigilant when handling dangerous chemicals.
Here are some of our top tips when working with chemicals.
1. Check the MSDS
Knowledge is power after all. There are risks associated with dangerous goods such as sodium hydroxide or hydrogen peroxide. We see the first step in making sure you’re handling chemicals safely is to know what you’re using. The Material Safety Data Sheet (or Product Safety Data Sheet or Safety Data Sheet) has information about hazardous information and composition of inputs. This can help you identify risks in the work place. All AIRD SDS information is available here.
Anther good resource to check if a chemical is dangerous or not is the Hazardous Chemical Information List.
2. Chemical Storage and Mixing
Some chemicals don’t like others! From basic chemistry we know that acids will react with alkalis (anyone remember the bi-carb soda and vinegar volcanos?). When storing chemicals it is really important that the space is clear, dry with good ventilation and it doesn’t get too hot or cold.
There is a wealth of information on this online – some of our basic recommendations are:
- Keep your acid based products away from alkaline products
- Keep anything with hydrogen peroxide separate from your acids and alkalis (ie Linvasan, PerCitra, Peracetic Acid).
- With liquids make sure that there is adequate bunding (to capture any spills)
- Make sure you have adequate space to utilise and mix chemicals (ie no trip hazards)
- Ensure that labels are visible and easily read
- Make sure pumps have drip catchers
- Know which chemicals can react to heat
3. What are you using the chemical for?
Looking at the application of a chemical is a really important safety consideration. When cleaning it may be possible to use a safer means of achieving the same goal. If it is possible to eliminate dangerous goods from your site then this means that you’ve significantly improved safety.
If it isn’t possible to remove every dangerous good, look at limiting the amount of exposure your staff will have to dangerous goods. Making dangerous goods a last resort throughout the cellar means that staff will be safer.
For example an approach to cleaning could be:
1. Initial water rinse
2. Circulation of non-dangerous chemical
3. Rinse and Review
When staff are at the review stage and further cleaning is needed they can make an educated decision about next steps if they’re required. Most cleaning in the cellar for wine shouldn’t need a dangerous good.
4. Is the product a powder or a liquid?
This may seem trivial however it is important. The risks associated with dangerous goods in a powder form are much higher because the strength of these chemicals are generally much greater. For example, if your winery uses caustic the average powdered form of sodium hydroxide is 99.6% active (caustic pearl), versus the liquid version that is circa 45-50% active. While both are dangerous one is much stronger than the other.
Another risk from powdered caustic is dust. The dust can be inhaled, or can easily get into eyes so it is important that adequate safety equipment is being used. Be very careful disposing with the packaging (ie bags/buckets that chemicals are contained in). Often the packaging that caustic comes in is overlooked by cellar staff and in a powder form it only takes a small amount to do a lot of damage.
Vapours are another risk with powders – especially with caustic. Be very careful as you can get a face full of pH 14 vapours and even with safety equipment this is a high risk.
The downside of dangerous goods as a liquid is that if they spill easily and even at a lower percentage activity level a splash in an eye can be very dangerous.
5. Make sure staff know the WHS plan and are familiar with how to use chemicals and are supervised appropriately
If you don’t already have a WHS plan this is a really useful link. There are lots of resources on the web, and industry trained safety consultants can help make sure that your workplace is safe. When it comes to chemical safety having a WHS plan and making sure that staff are adequately trained is essential.
Working safely is working smarter. In the AIRD range Cleanskin, Destainex, Citsanex, Vinisan, Oak Restorer, Peroxica, Rejuvasol and Wineglass are all non dangerous.
Haven’t tried any of our non-dangerous cleaners and sanitisers lately? Talk to us.