Every occupation has unique safety risks and hazards that professionals must deal with daily. The pharmaceutical manufacturing industry exposes workers to different risks since it involves working with chemicals, pathogens, toxic fumes, hazardous agents, and flammable materials. Professionals in this industry must understand the preventive measures to minimize exposure to these hazards. The risks are inevitable whether a professional manufactures tablets, capsules, gels, ointments, aerosols, creams, or syrups. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the risks and tips to prevent health hazards in the pharmaceutical industry. Here are the types of hazards in a pharmaceutical manufacturing firm.
The pharmaceutical industry focuses on treating and preventing infections caused by pathogens, including viruses, bacteria, and fungi. To develop drugs to control pathogens, researchers, scientists, and lab technicians have to handle these microorganisms. Unfortunately, poor handling of pathogens and chemicals when making drugs or vaccines could lead to infections. Therefore, medical researchers must apply primary and secondary measures to contain biological hazards. The primary measures include simple routine practices such as washing hands, using a gas mask with a quality nato 40mm filter, and enhancing ventilation in the laboratory. Secondary measures involve using pre-exposure drugs and seeking timely treatment when exposed to biological hazards.
Medical researchers use chemicals to kill pathogens, enhance immunity, or treat diseases. Unfortunately, some chemicals are flammable or corrosive, exposing researchers to fire risk and injuries. Accidents involving flammable or combustible materials often lead to physical injuries, burns, and inhalation of smoke. These could lead to serious long-term health challenges, disability, or even death. Therefore, pharmaceutical manufacturers should identify these hazards and take relevant precautionary measures.
Medical researchers have to use, handle, transport, and store various chemicals used for manufacturing drugs. Although these chemicals are required for primary or secondary steps of drug processing, they could lead to serious health issues when inhaled or ingested. Therefore, they must use the appropriate methods to handle, store, or transport the chemicals from one place to another to minimize the risk of accidental consumption.
Carbon Monoxide Exposure
Certain chemical reactions produce carbon monoxide as a by-product. This gas is toxic to humans and could lead to dizziness, fatigue, vomiting, and even death. Unfortunately, this gas is colorless and odorless, making it hard for workers to detect and avoid it. So what is the best way to prevent exposure to carbon monoxide? Pharmaceutical manufacturers can invest in advanced gas detectors, install signage in the right places, and improve ventilation.
Sunlight is what some people think when they hear about UV rays. But UV rays are used in pharmaceutical manufacturing, such as vitamin D manufacturing. However, exposure to UV rays is associated with a high risk of skin cancer, skin burns, and cataracts. For this reason, workers should use appropriate protective apparel and accessories to protect the skin and the eyes during pharmaceutical processing procedures.
How Can Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Prevent Workplace Hazards?
Apart from the few measures highlighted above, pharmaceutical employees should embrace best practices to minimize safety risks in the workplace. Here are steps to improve safety without compromising the outcome of their work.
Undertake a Thorough Risk Assessment
This involves identifying procedures or substances that pose risks to individuals, other substances, or the environment. Risk assessment seeks to understand the risk associated with a certain product or process and alter the process or eliminate the product to minimize the risk. Since employees deal with different substances, regular risk assessment is one of the first steps toward enhancing safety. The process involves identifying potential hazards, determining who is at risk, deciding how to eliminate or minimize the risk, documenting the process, and reviewing the implementation of the recommended measures.
Primary Laboratory Safety
Observing basic safety measures is mandatory in the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry. Employers should provide employees with relevant guidelines on safety practices applicable in hazard-prone areas such as the laboratory. For example, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends frequent laboratory cleaning, washing hands regularly, wearing PPEs, labeling containers, not eating in the laboratory, keeping the environment clean, and daily risk evaluation.
Provide Material Safety Data Sheets
Medical professionals handling hazardous chemicals must understand the risks of a particular chemical. Therefore, the authorities require chemical suppliers to provide detailed material safety data sheets with relevant information to guide users, minimizing safety risks when using the chemical. The data sheets contain information about the identification of the substance, providers’ contact details, composition or ingredients, toxicology report, handling and storage details, first aid measures, personal protection requirements, and disposal information. This information should always be accessible to those working with the chemicals.
Document Every Process
Pharmaceutical industries use chemicals regularly, which is one of the reasons to take notes at every step of the manufacturing process. Documentation helps identify and fix any mistakes that could lead to safety risks. It also ensures that the workers follow the same process each time to avoid unsafe protocol. When an unsafe situation arises, the documents can come in handy to determine the mistakes made and the relevant improvements to enhance safety.
Maintain Safety Standards for Handling Chemicals
Handling and transporting chemicals pose significant risks to pharmaceutical employees. Generally, workers should use reasonably practical safety measures to reduce the risk of exposure, explosion, or chemical release. They should first understand the chemical classification to identify potential risks and mitigation strategies. The classification documents highlight the risk factors, appropriate labeling, legal compliance, and storage requirements.
Understanding the ideal storage temperature and pressure prevents reactions that could lead to explosions. This step also involves using protective equipment and appropriate emergency response measures. Therefore, ensure all the workers understand the classification of chemicals and the appropriate measures they should put in place when handling a specific chemical.
Employers should provide a safe work environment to protect employees from health and safety hazards. Pharmaceutical manufacturers can use these best practices to protect workers from chemicals, biological hazards, UV rays, flammable materials, and dangerous gases such as carbon monoxide. Adopting these practices helps manufacture safe drugs without compromising the safety and health of the workers.