The best safety expression any workplace can have, which uses pesticides and highly values worker health and safety, is that of “Prevention is better than Cure.”
In a study commissioned by National Safety Council of Australia (NCSA) and Ansell on trends in safety performance, it was found that leading indicators (especially near misses) were more effective in developing injury prevention strategies than lagging indicators (injuries/fatalities). Therefore, a great starting point is fostering the right culture in your workplace with a key focus on recording and analyzing near misses/accidents and carrying out in-depth risk assessments for all hazardous chemicals used.
However even with the best of efforts and procedures; accidents happen and therefore appropriate planning, training and first aid procedures are crucial for successful outcomes in the event of poisoning through contact with pesticides.
A good starting point and workplace initiative is to foster a sound knowledge of the signs and symptoms of chemical poisoning, and so post the chart below for all staff to access. For specific first aid relative to a poisoning where the product used is known, refer to the products safety data sheet.
Pesticide PoisoningSource: http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/chemicals/pesticides/firstaid.html

First Aid Procedure for Acute Pesticide Poisoning

If you are trained in first aid you will be able to assess the situation and may be able to do the following:

  • See if the victim is breathing, if not, administer artificial respiration (CPR), ensuring you are not contaminated.
  • Decontaminate the victim immediately by washing thoroughly. Speed is essential.
  • Call the ambulance (phone 000) or the closest hospital.

However, if you are not trained in first aid the best course of action would be to follow the label/SDS first aid instructions and contact the emergency services as soon as possible.

If more than one person is available to help the victim, do the following:

  • One person should check that the victim is breathing. If not, give artificial respiration then begin washing the victim.
  • Another person should call the hospital or doctor immediately, then assist with the decontamination of the victim.
  • Ambulance officers will need information from the label and/or MSDS i.e. active ingredients, UN number etc.

First Aid Pesticide

If the chemical has been spilled on the skin or clothing:

  • Remove the clothing immediately if it is contaminated and thoroughly wash the skin with soap and water. Avoid harsh scrubbing as this enhances chemical absorption.
  • Rinse the affected area with water, wash again and rinse.
  • Gently dry the affected area and wrap in a loose cloth or a blanket if necessary

If there are chemical burns of the skin:

  • If there are chemical burns of the skin, cover the area loosely with a clean, soft cloth.
  • Avoid the use of ointments, greases, powders and other medications unless instructed by a medical authority.

If the chemical has been inhaled:

  • Get the victim to fresh air immediately; carry the victim (don’t let the victim walk)
  • Have the victim lie down and loosen clothing
  • Keep the victim warm and quiet
  • If the victim is convulsing, watch the breathing and protect the victim’s head
  • If breathing stops or is irregular, give artificial respiration.

Do not attempt to rescue someone who is in a closed, contaminated area unless you are wearing appropriate protective equipment.

If the chemical has entered the eye:

  • Hold the eyelid open and immediately begin gently washing the eye with cool to warm clean running water
  • Do not use chemicals or drugs in the wash water unless instructed by a doctor or the Poisons Information Centre