7 Hazardous Chemicals That May Be Present On Your Worksite

One of the more dangerous parts of working on a site is the possibility that there may be hazardous chemicals lurking around. These chemicals could cause you or your workers serious harm – and in most cases, you won’t be able to detect them without a proper environmental site assessment.

These can halt the production of the project you’re working on and cause unnecessary and unforeseen delays. That is why it’s important to have an environmental site assessment done before work is commenced – as it could end up saving you time and money. Below, is a list of seven dangerous chemicals that may be lurking on your worksite – as well as why they’re considered dangerous.


1.   Acids

As with all hazardous chemicals, the degree of how harmful they are depends on the level of concentration that is present. Acids are dangerous because they are corrosive and can cause a great deal of damage to your skin, eyes and breathing passages – essentially anything with tissue. Even diluted acid can still be corrosive.


2.   Disinfectants

Disinfectants are cleaning agents that are used to destroy microorganisms. They’re generally used in spray forms at home but come in other forms as well that are used for industrial uses. This is the type that you’ll most likely encounter on a worksite. Some disinfectants could be highly corrosive or – at the very least – still cause skin and eye irritation. Others may be highly flammable.


3.   Glues and adhesives

High levels of exposure to adhesive products such as glue on a worksite can cause skin irritation and acid burns. They can also be highly toxic due to the substances used in making them. It is always important to wear the appropriate protective wear when working with glues. Another hazard is if you’re working with melted glues – as the melted form brings its own hazards with it.


4.   Heavy metals

There are quite a few different heavy metals that can be found on worksites such as:

  • Mercury– This is a naturally occurring element. Mercury poses serious risks to humans and can affect a person’s outside tissue such as skin and eyes as well as their organs. Mercury may cause major problems to a person’s digestive and immune system. It may also seriously damage children in utero.
  • Lead– There are no known levels of lead exposure that are considered safe. Lead will distribute itself throughout a person’s body, storing itself in bones and teeth, where it will accumulate over time. It will release itself into the bloodstream during a woman’s pregnancy where it will be exposed to the foetus.
  • Cadmium– Cadmium is found in products such as phone batteries, cigarette smoke, metal plating and some fertilisers. This particular heavy metal is created when other metals are smelted down – such as copper and zinc-lead. In extreme cases, cadmium can have an adverse effect on a person’s kidney, lungs and bones.

5.   Petroleum

Petroleum on a worksite is predominantly dangerous as it is highly flammable and could cause an explosion if a spark is lit. The fumes from petroleum can also be considered toxic in high volumes – especially if it is in a small area that is not well ventilated.


6.   Pesticides

Pesticides may cause serious health risks depending on their potency. This is due to the chemicals they contain – which can cause chronic disease and generally poison people. Pesticides can enter a person:

  • Through their skin, if they’re sprayed;
  • If they accidentally breathe the vapours in; and
  • Through ingestion of food or drinks that have been contaminated with pesticides.


7.   Solvents

Solvents can be found in various types of workplaces and can be quite poisonous to people if ingested or inhaled. If inhaled, solvents can cause everything from bronchial irritation and nausea to serious neurotoxic issues within your body. Solvents are actually quite common and are predominantly used to dilute other chemicals to form solutions.


Are you in need of an environmental site assessment?

If you’re looking at starting work on a newly acquired site – or would simply like to know the state of an old site – then you should get in contact with Alpha Environmental. At Alpha Environmental, our environmental site assessment specialists will tell you everything you need to know about the site and whether or not it’s safe to work on. We offer phase one, two and three environmental site assessments as well as a variety of other environmental services.

If you would like to know more about our environmental site assessment services, then please give us a call on 1300 039 181 or fill out the form on our website here.