When you think about them, the words "Healthy", and "Safe" describe conditions we would all wish for ourselves, whether at work or at play. Interestingly though, these can often be the last things we think about, unless of course we are paid to think about them, or until after an incident has occurred!
The importance of health and safety, especially in the workplace cannot be over-
Each profession can be expected to have issues of health and safety associated with materials they use that are particular to the kind of work being carried out. For example:
The crime scene examiner who uses aluminium flake to dust for fingerprints will be exposed to the very fine particles of this material in the air around the surface being dusted
The technician in the police fingerprint development laboratory will be exposed to reagents such as ninhydrin, and organic solvents used in revealing invisible fingerprints
Students and their tutors will be exposed to a wide range of substances whilst pursuing chemical or biological practical investigations in school and university laboratories
Motor engineers and mechanics will be exposed to oils and greases and aggressive degreasing materials when carrying out vehicle repairs and maintenance in the garage
There are several key pieces of legislation which set out the legal framework relating to chemical substances. These include:
The (COSHH) Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 No. 2677
The (DSEAR) Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 No. 2776
The (CHIP) Chemicals (Hazard Information and Packaging for Supply) Regulations 2009 No. 716
The (REACH) Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals Enforcement Regulations 2008 No. 2852
This is by no means an exhaustive list. Indeed, there are many other regulations which apply for example to the manufacture, carriage, supply, and uses of all manner of chemical substances such as explosives, fireworks, drugs, human and veterinary medicines, foodstuffs and drinks, biocides, radioactive materials, and substances subject to customs duties.
THE HEALTH AND SAFETY EXECUTIVE
In the UK, both practical advice, and help with meeting the various legislative requirements regarding health and safety are available directly from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
Go there ...
HEALTH AND SAFETY AT WORK
To remain healthy and safe whilst at work, whilst handling hazardous or dangerous substances, you need to know:
What substances you and others can become exposed to
What it is about the substances that has the potential to
How you might become exposed to the substances
How exposure will affect your health
What steps to take to minimize and control the risk of
What to do if or when you have been exposed
How to record and monitor any exposure and its effects on your health
How to keep others informed
Getting answers to these issues involves gathering information and carrying out a risk assessment.
MATERIAL SAFETY DATA SHEETS
If you know which substances you use, details about their hazardous properties, how you might become exposed, and the possible effects of exposure, can each be obtained from material safety data sheets (MSDS). These are normally provided by the supplier of any substance purchased from them. Information about other sources of MSDS, and examples of their use can be found on the Material Safety Data Sheets page on this site. Go there ...
The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (SI 2677) set out what an employer must do to ensure the health and safety of employees working with hazardous substances. So once you have obtained safety data, you use it to inform an assessment of risks, and in the UK, to meet the requirements of the COSHH Regulations. The full Regulations can be viewed at the Office of Public Sector Information web site: HERE. (new window)
A full, worked example of a COSHH assessment can be found on further pages of this site. Go there ...
Dangerous substances are those defined as substances or mixtures of substances classified as explosive, oxidising, extremely flammable, highly flammable, or flammable under the current CHIP Regulations. So, if the substances you are using are dangerous -
The full Regulations can be viewed at the Office of Public Sector Information web site:
Further information is given in our DSEAR page. Go there ...
The CHIP [Chemicals (Hazard Information and Packaging for Supply)] Regulations 2009, deal with the marketing of dangerous substances and preparations. CHIP is aimed at suppliers of hazardous / dangerous substances and requires suppliers of chemicals to:
Decide whether the substances are dangerous
State in what way they are dangerous
Clearly label, and package the products properly
The full Regulations can be viewed at the Office of Public Sector Information web site: HERE. (new window)
The (REACH) Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals Enforcement Regulations 2008 has several key aims:
To provide a high level of protection of both human health and the environment from the use of chemicals
To make the people who place chemicals on the market responsible for understanding and managing the risks associated with their use
To permit the free movement of substances on the European market
To promote innovation and competitiveness in the European chemicals industry
To promote alternative methods for the assessment of the hazardous properties of substances
The full Regulations can be viewed at the Office Of Public Sector Information web site: HERE. (pdf file;new window)