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Dangerous Substances and Risk Assessment

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1 Dangerous Substances and Risk Assessment
A European campaign on Risk Assessment

2 What are dangerous substances?
Dangerous substances (DA): Are any liquids, gases or solids that pose a risk to workers’ health or safety Can be found in nearly all workplaces, including in SMEs (farms, hairdresser’s shops, motor-cycle repair shops, hospitals, schools…) Include chemical as well as biological agents (bacteria, viruses, yeast and mould, parasites...) Include substances produced as a by-product of work, as well as raw materials (welding fumes, diesel exhaust, wood dust, flour used in bakeries…).

3 Dangerous substances and harm
If the risks of using DS are not properly managed, workers’ health can be harmed in a variety of ways: Through a single short exposure Through multiple exposures Through long-term accumulation of substances in the body.

4 Health effects DS can have many different health effects including:
Acute effects: poisoning, suffocation, explosion and fire Long-term effects, for example: Respiratory diseases (reactions in the airways and lungs) such as asthma, rhinitis, asbestosis and silicosis Occupational cancers (leukaemia, lung cancer, mesothelioma, cancer of the nasal cavity) Health effects that can be both acute and long-term: Skin diseases, reproductive problems and birth defects, allergies Some substances can accumulate in the body Some substances can have a cumulative effect Some substances can penetrate through the skin

5 Dangerous Substances - the law
Legislation in this field includes regulations on the protection of workers from the risks related to: Chemical agents Biological agents Carcinogens and mutagens (including asbestos and wood dust) Regulations on classification and labelling are equally important, but do not apply to all dangerous substances (e.g. hairdressing chemicals, pharmaceuticals) Restrictions on use and marketing are imposed on some substances and work procedures. You should seek clarification of the specific national legislation that may apply to you, relating to the use of DS in the workplace.

6 Other relevant legislation
REACH European Community Regulation EC 1907/2006 creates a new, single system for the Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals:  Aims to do more to protect the environment and health of users Makes industry more responsible for managing the risks from chemicals and providing safety information on substances to all who produce or use a substance. More on REACH: GHS – the United Nations Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals -will also have an impact on workers’ health More on GHS:

7 In a nutshell… By law, employers in the EU must protect their workers from being harmed by DS in the workplace. In order to protect workers from DS, employers are required by law to carry out a Risk Assessment (RA). Workers should be involved in this task.

8 What is Risk Assessment?
Risk Assessment is the process of evaluating the risks to workers’ safety and health from workplace hazards. It is a systematic examination of all aspects of work that considers: What could cause injury or harm Whether hazards could be eliminated and, if not, What preventive or protective measures should be in place to control the risks. RA is the basis for successful safety and health management, the key to reducing occupational accidents and illnesses

9 Risk Assessment for DS RA for DS involves the same basic principles and processes as for other occupational risks Whoever carries out the RA it is essential that employees are consulted and involved in the process. They: Know their workplace Are the ones who will have to implement any changes in working conditions/ practices. Different methods are available. But for most businesses, a straightforward five-step approach to RA works well.

10 Step 1: Identify hazards and those at risk (1)
Look for substances that have the potential to cause harm, and identify any workers who may be exposed to the substances Particular attention should be paid to groups of workers who may be at increased risk e.g: Young workers Pregnant women and nursing mothers Migrant workers Untrained or inexperienced staff Cleaners, contractors and members of the public. Reminder: a hazard can be anything — whether work materials, equipment, work methods or practices — that has the potential to cause harm.

11 Step 1: Identify hazards and those at risk (2)
To help identify hazards: Make an inventory of substances used and generated in the workplace Collect information about these substances e.g. the harm they can do and how this can happen Standardised safety labels, risk symbols, and safety data sheets (SDS), which must be provided by the supplier of a chemical, are important source of information Check the Occupational Exposure Limits (OELs) for the substances OELs help to control exposure to DS in the workplace, by setting the maximum amount of (air) concentration of a substance Assess whether you are using carcinogens or mutagens, for which more stringent rules apply For more information see Facts 33 and Facts 35

12 Step 2: Evaluate and prioritise risks
Assess workers’ exposure to DS that have been identified, looking at the type, intensity, length, frequency of exposure to workers Consider which work procedures are being used Consider combined exposures to substances Consider combined effects with other risks, for example: Fire risks near flammable substances Heavy physical work that can increase the uptake of chemicals, Wet work that can increase the effect of chemicals on the skin The list can then be used to draw up a action plan. Reminder: a risk is the chance, high or low, that somebody may be harmed by a hazard.

13 Step 3: Decide on preventive action (1)
Follow the hierarchy of measures to prevent or reduce the exposure of workers to DS : Elimination – the best way to reduce the risks associated with DS Remove the need to use the DS by changing the process or product in which the substance is used Substitution – if elimination is not possible Substitute or replace the DS with non-hazardous or less hazardous alternatives

14 Step 3: Decide on preventive action (2)
Control - if a substance or process cannot be eliminated or substituted Prevent or reduce the exposure through: Enclosure of the process that results in DS being emitted Control of the emission at the source Better management of processes Technical solutions to minimise exposure Reducing the number of workers exposed to the dangerous substance, and the duration and intensity of exposure Where exposure cannot be prevented by other means, ensure that individuals have suitable personal protective equipment and are trained in its use.

15 Substitution – work processes
Start with substances and work processes that: Have already caused problems in your enterprise (health problems, accidents or other incidents) Make regular health monitoring (such as medical examination of workers) necessary Are covered by specific national regulations imposing restrictions of use in the workplace Lead to high levels of exposure among workers, or result in exposure to many workers. Work processes to consider include: Open processes, e.g. painting large surfaces, mixing/compounding in open containers/vessels Processes that generate dusts, vapours or fumes, or that disperse liquids in the air, e.g. welding, paint-spraying.

16 Substitution – substances
Substances to consider include those that: Increase the risk of fire and explosion Are volatile, e.g. organic solvents, or that are dispersed in the air (aerosols, dust) Cause acute health risks, e.g. poisons, corrosives and irritants Cause chronic health risks, e.g. allergens, substances that affect reproduction Cause occupational diseases Can be absorbed through the skin Make the use of personal protective equipment (e.g. inhalation protection)necessary. For more information see Facts 34

17 Carcinogens and mutagens
Regulations for carcinogens and mutagens impose more stringent requirements: Carcinogenic and mutagenic substances must be replaced as far as technically possible Enclosure of the emitting process is mandatory if it is technically feasable Workers‘ access must be restricted More detailed records must be kept on workers‘ exposure, and the must be kept for longer More information must be given to workers on exposure and health monitoring. You should seek clarification of the specific national legislation that may apply to you, regarding the use of DS in the workplace

18 Step 4: Take action Put in place preventive and protective measures
Effective implementation involves the development of a plan that specifies: Who does what When a task is to be completed The means allocated to implement the measures When the assessment will be revised and by whom It is essential that any work to eliminate, substitute or controls risks is prioritised.

19 Step 5: Monitor and review
The effectiveness of preventive measures should be monitored The assessment should be reviewed whenever significant changes occur in the organisation: When there are changes in the work procedure When new chemicals and work procedures are introduced When accidents or health problems occur On a periodic basis, to ensure that the findings of the RA are still valid.

20 Record the Assessment The Risk Assessment must be documented, such a record can be used to: Pass information to the persons concerned Assess whether the necessary measures have been introduced Provide evidence for supervisory authorities Revise measures if circumstances change.

21 Advice for workers To keep safe in relation to DS, workers should be kept informed about: The findings of the RA The hazards they are exposed to How they may be affected What they have to do to keep themselves and others safe What to do in case of an accident or when things go wrong How to know when things go wrong Who they should report any problems to What to do when carrying out maintenance work The results of any exposure monitoring or health surveillance.

22 Advice to employers: communication
Good communication between employer and worker includes: Having a list of hazardous substances that are used or generated through the work process Having Safety Data Sheets (SDS) and similar documents available for each DS used Producing work instructions based on information about DS Making sure that containers for DS are clearly labelled Communicating the results of the RA Regularly asking workers about potential health and safety problems Providing workers with all relevant information, instruction and training on the DS present in the workplace.

23 Good for you. Good for business.
Good for you. Good for business. A European campaign on Risk Assessment

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