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Chemical Safety on the Golf Course  - Golf Safety

While pesticides, insecticides, fungicides, fertilizers, nematicides and all the other substances you may use are extremely helpful in managing your golf facility, they are also dangerous. If used incorrectly, they can cause permanent damage to your crew’s health.

It can take as little as a drop of a certain chemical coming in contact with the eyes to cause permanent vision impairment, so its important that you follow and enforce safety regulations as they relate to the chemical use and chemical protective clothing. Many of the chemicals pose invisible hazards and show little to no warnings. As always, one of the best ways to control the hazards is to wear personal protective equipment – in this case, chemical protective equipment. Chemical Protective Clothing  There are various types of chemical protective clothing, including: 

  • Safety glasses 
  • Face shields 
  • Body coverings/Tyvek suits/coveralls 
  • Gloves 
  • Chemical resistant aprons 
  • Rubber boots 
  • Hardhats  
  • Ear protection 

While the chemical label and SDS sheets provide information and guidelines regarding the hazards, it’s important that you develop your club’s policy as it relates to chemical protection. What PPE do you require? Where should chemicals be stored? Can chemicals be transferred to different containers? If so, what guidelines should be followed? Is there a re-entry interval? Does it vary by chemical? These are all questions that you should answer as part of your chemical protection program. How to determine what PPE should be used First of all, it’s important to clarify that no PPE or combination of PPE can provide complete protection from chemical hazards… so you need to select the PPE or combination of PPE that will provide the most protection.

However, you also need to consider the hazards that PPE may cause – such as heat stress, reduced mobility or visibility, or increased difficulty to communicate. It may sound like a good idea to overprotect your crew, but it’s not. Overprotection could cause even more hazards. Keep in mind that overprotection can be just as bad as under protection.  OSHA states that chemical clothing must be used anytime a worker is exposed to a chemical. This means that all crew mixing or applying chemicals must wear some level of protective clothing. 

Take note of what tasks require or involve the use of chemicals, and then do a thorough site evaluation. Consider the environment, nature of the task, and the movement needed to complete the task.  

Consider whether your crew is walking through areas where the chemical is applied, or whether they will be applying the chemicals above the height of their shoulders.   For example, they may need to wear rubber boots for turf applications, and a hard hat if they will be spraying pesticides on trees or other tall surfaces.  Chemical Protective Ensembles  Chemical protection often requires an “ensemble” of protective clothing and equipment which are combined to provide adequate protection while allowing the user to maintain mobility.   Factors to take into consideration: 

  • Is the PPE compatible? 
  • Does the PPE fit correctly? 
  • Does the PPE reduce dexterity? 
  • Is the donning time appropriate? 

 Considering the above, you may choose the combination of equipment that provides the most protection.    Complete chemical protection usually calls for a set of equipment including: 

  • Body covering such as coveralls, pants, and jacket, or a Tyvek suit 
  • Safety glasses and/or face shields
  • Chemical resistant gloves 
  • Chemical resistant shoes

Keep in mind that the level of protection provided varies by equipment, and by exposure. Factors such as the thickness of the material and exposure times need to be taken into consideration when evaluating equipment, and no materials can provide permanent and complete protection from all chemicals.  An important note about gloves – the thicker they are, the more protection they provide. However, do not use latex or polyethylene gloves to handle chemicals. These types of gloves can actually absorb the chemical and allow it to continue to damage the skin. 

Consider the permeation degree of your PPE, which is related to exposure conditions and contact time. The permeation rate determines how much of the contaminant permeates the material. The rate is inversely proportional to the thickness of the material and directly proportional to the concentration of the contaminant  This means that the thicker the material, the more protection is provided and the lower the permeation rate. However, the more concentrated the chemical is, and the longer you’re exposed to it, the higher the permeation rate is. However, it’s important that you consider how the thickness of the glove will affect your crew’s ability to do the job safely.  While SDS’s and chemical labels may provide you with a good guideline of the type of PPE that should be used, be sure to consider the tasks your crew will be performing as well as environmental factors that may affect them while performing the tasks.  

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