Hand sanitiser warning for workplaces

Hand sanitiser sold out in the push to stop the spread of coronavirus in workplaces.

But the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety is warning businesses to take care when storing the high alcohol content-product.

Ethanol and propanol – both major ingredients in many sanitiser products- are classed as flammable liquids.

Their low flash points present a fire hazard and require a local risk assessment if being stored in the workplace.

The alcohol content also means they could be a hazard if swallowed by children, or used in a confined space.

DMIRS recommends businesses:

  1. Keep hand sanitisers out of reach of children.
  2. Keep containers tightly closed when not in use.
  3. Keep away from heat, sparks, open flames, hot surfaces etc. No smoking.
  4. Use hand sanitisers in a ventilated space – do not use liquid sanitiser inside confined spaces without plenty of ventilation when applying (e.g. inside cars without windows down).
  5. Do not keep hand sanitisers inside cars during warm or hot weather.
  6. Keep away from oxidising agents (e.g. granulated pool chlorine).
  7. Hand sanitiser dispensers should not be placed above or close to potential sources of ignition, such as light switches and electrical outlets, or next to oxygen cylinders, due to the increased risk of vapour igniting.

Steve Emery from DMIRS says manufacturers of the hand sanitiser have extra safety considerations.

“While it depends on the quantities being manufactured and stored, businesses producing hand sanitiser should conduct a risk assessment that considers factors such as spills, fires, ventilation and emergency evacuations.

“Manufacturers should also ensure packaging is appropriate and meets the requirements of the Australian Dangerous Goods Code 7.6.”

The World Health Organisation recommends washing your hands for at least 20 seconds. Here’s what that looks like.

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