OHS Code Explanation Guide

Published Date: July 01, 2009
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Part 4 Chemical Hazards, Biological Hazards and Harmful Substances

Section 23 Worker decontamination

Workers, their clothing, and equipment may become contaminated during work activities through exposure to harmful substances including chemical or biological hazards. The employer is responsible for providing suitable means to allow workers to remove the contamination before leaving the work site.

The type of decontamination facility required depends on the harmful substance and the operation. Workers should be able to leave the work site without carrying away any amount of harmful substance that could adversely affect their health or the health of other persons with whom they have contact. For example, a worker doing lead soldering in a shop where lead particulate is produced must be provided with a suitable facility to change clothes and shower. The facility should have enough space for lockers so clean clothes can be kept separate from contaminated work clothes. As it relates to lead, there is significant potential for take-home lead exposure from lead contamination on a worker’s skin, clothing and respirators. It is important that lead contamination be removed prior to the worker leaving the work site.

As the presence of a harmful substance on articles and clothing could adversely affect the worker’s health, the employer must ensure that only properly decontaminated or cleaned articles and clothing are taken from the work site by the worker. The employer can determine whether to provide laundry facilities or some other means of cleaning the clothing. Articles may be wiped, washed or hosed down.

As it relates to biohazardous materials, it is recommended that employers develop and implement procedures that describe methods to clean, disinfect, or dispose of contaminated articles or clothing.