Common Chemical Hazards in a Veterinary Practice

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  • 0:01 The Right to Know Law
  • 0:47 Hazardous Material Plan
  • 2:17 Safely Handling Toxic…
  • 3:42 Formalin and Ethylene Oxide
  • 4:32 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson will go over important points related to the hazards and safety of chemicals used in veterinary practice: such as the right to know law and how to safely handle chemicals. A short quiz follows.

The Right to Know Law

Tons of people believe we have the right to know how and when our own government is spying on us, if UFOs really exist and if Elvis is really dead or not. We may not really have a right to know those things though. But one thing you do have on your side is the Right to Know Law, a law that allows you to know exactly what chemicals you are exposed to while on your job.

Although we may never get the right to know if UFOs really exist, this law, on a day-to-day basis in your veterinary workplace, is way more important than figuring out what ET is up to. This is because there are dangerous chemicals lurking at your job, and you have a right to know what they are, what dangers they pose and how to protect yourself against them.

Hazardous Material Plan

The Right to Know Law is a law that requires you to do something. It's not an option, it's a requirement. What I mean is there will be certain chemicals that you may need to handle that will require the use of protective equipment while handling them. Your employer has the obligation to provide this safety equipment at no cost to you. You must wear this equipment while handling the toxic substance in question, you do not have a choice, and it's obviously for your own good.

One other important aspect of the Right to Know Law is something called the hazardous materials plan found in your place of employment. It is a plan that describes how to handle hazardous substances and one that contains contact information of local physicians and hazardous materials teams in case of emergency.

You have the right and the obligation, for your own well-being, to review such a plan. So, ask your supervisor for it. This is because, on average, a veterinary hospital will have hundreds of toxic chemicals for a multitude of uses on its premises. You need to be trained how to properly use them, how to use the safety equipment involved, and the need to learn what dangers they pose to your health.

Also, make sure to review any material safety data sheets as well. These are data sheets that contain information about the chemical substances you'll be using. Both the material safety data sheets (MSDS) and the hazardous material plan are mandates of OSHA, the Occupation Safety and Health Act.

Safely Handling Toxic Chemicals

Whenever you find yourself working with a chemical substance, always read the label on the bottle. Follow the directions and take heed of any warnings.

If you ever need to take a chemical out of its original packaging in order to dilute it or mix it with another chemical or water, make sure to label the secondary container you'll be storing this new mixture in with exactly what it contains and any appropriate warnings.

Whenever diluting or mixing such chemicals, wear all appropriate protective equipment. This may include, but not be limited to: latex gloves, goggles and masks.

If you are ever mixing a chemical concentrate with water, always add the chemical to the water, not the water to the chemical because in the case of the latter, you may splash the water in and splash a bunch of chemicals onto yourself.

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