Posted: 8:30 p.m.
Several local agricultural facilities contain chemicals, and hazards are always present; so these facilities are subject to random inspections to prevent any kind of accident, according to Jessie Atencio, the acting director for the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health (ADOSH).
A recent example of employees harmed by chemicals was in December of 2011, when about a dozen employees at a Yuma cooling plant were exposed to ammonia after it leaked at the facility.
The employees were injured and had to be treated at a hospital.
Because of this inherent hazard of working around chemicals, the Arizona Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires facilities to follow safety procedures.
"They have to have a specific plan in place," Atencio said. "It [the plan] definitely goes over responsibilities, checks of the systems, replacing the kinds of equipments and parts--you can't just use anything."
In addition to safety plans, the Yuma area has an annual event where health, safety and public officials talk about how to deal with chemical hazards, and they develop response and safety plans.
Chemical plants are also required to have their own emergency contingency plan, according to Atencio.
"We also look to see whether the employer has an emergency evacuation plan," Atencio said about what ADOSH looks for during random checks. "And also whether they've contacted their local fire department to ensure that if they ever have a large release or a large chemical spill, that they know how to appropriately handle the situation without confusion or any type of delay to get there."
If you are an employee working in a facility with chemicals, and have any questions, or if you are an owner of a facility that uses chemicals, and you would like to make sure your facility is up-to-date with safety regulations, you can call the Arizona Occupational Safety and Health Administration at 1-855-268-5251.