In 2013, 719 Colorado businesses, 35,557 Nationwide, reported a poison exposure in the workplace. These incidents highlight the need and importance of Poison Prevention Week as a way to educate and inform individuals and businesses about poisoning exposures and what to do in the event of an emergency.
To gain further insight into how people can protect themselves we spoke with Medical Director, Alvin Bronstein MD, FACEP, and Call Center Nurse Supervisor, Sarah Bruhn BSN, CSPI, of the Rocky Mountain Poison & Drug Center. Poison Prevention week is about creating awareness by educating employers and employees about the resource of the Poison Hotline, explaining what individuals have the right to know and how to access the information.
It seems akin to participating in a tornado or fire drill. The information shared may not be needed right that moment but it’s absolutely critical in those emergency moments. Like the tornado or fire drill, going through the motions may be the difference between life and death when the situation happens in real life.
Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center does not regulate or enforce policy. However, Bruhn and Bronstein said employers working within OSHA regulations are required to notify employees during initial and subsequent training periods of important numbers and where essential information is stored and how to access.
Employers are highly encouraged to provide a designated area to allow employees quick and easy access to information like The Rocky Mountain Poison Center, 1-800-222-1222, and safety data-sheets describing the types of materials they are handling. This information should always be available from your employer upon your request.
As an employer, Poison Prevention Week is about ensuring workplace safety and encouraging access to information. As an employee, it’s about knowing the questions to ask and where to locate the information.
- If the person is not breathing, call 911.
- If the person inhaled poison, get him or her fresh air right away.
- If the person has poison on the skin, take off any clothing the poison touched. Rinse skin with running water for 15 to 20 minutes.
- If the person has poison in the eyes, rinse eyes with running water for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Do not use activated charcoal when you think someone may have been poisoned.
Calling Poison Help
- Do not wait for signs of poisoning before calling Poison Help (1-800-222-1222), which connects you to your local poison center. Stay calm. Not all medicines, chemicals, or household products are poisonous. Not all contact with poison results in poisoning.
- Make sure to have the container of the product you think caused the poisoning nearby. The label has important information.
Be ready (if you can) to tell the expert on the phone:
- The exposed person’s age and weight
- Known health conditions or problems
- The product involved
- How the product contacted the person (for example, by mouth, by inhaling, through the skin, or through the eyes)
- How long ago the poison contacted the person
- What first aid has already been given
- Whether the person has vomited
- Your exact location and how long it would take you to get to a hospital
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