Know Your Requirements for Chemical & Hazardous Material Management

February 18, 2020

“Healthy Workplaces Manage Dangerous Substances” – European Safety Agency

An EU wide campaign for all member states created by the European Safety Agency in relation to chemical and hazardous materials management has been widely welcomed by member states.

Of note, The HSE have been strong advocates which is welcoming news,  reinforcing the importance for companies from all industries handling Chemicals, Dangerous & Hazardous Materials.

“The HSE are delighted to support the European Safety Agency’s campaign and have taken this opportunity to review chemical safety to provide helpful information and tools for all our colleagues to better manage hazardous chemicals in the workplace.” HSE website

The most important message we can draw from this is that all Safety Managers should be aware of their requirements when it comes to hazardous chemical compliance management in their workplace.

Workers are exposed to dangerous substances in many European workplaces. Such exposures are more common than most people realise and, in fact, may occur in almost all workplaces. This presents major safety and health concerns.

A step by step process has been published by the HSE which details your requirements for chemical management in stages.

1. Review All Chemicals

chemical containers stacked on shelving

A common issue for the workplace is awareness of exactly what chemicals are used and stored in their workplace. It is imperative that a detailed chemical inventory is carried out for chemical management. By knowing what is on-site is the first step and can work as a useful exercise to carry out the long finger task of clearing out the “shelf in the corner” or “locked old storeroom”. It can serve as a housekeeping exercise to reduce over-ordering of materials which is another common issue with Chemicals we discover on site.

There is no greater risk than expired chemicals sitting in storage, It is a catastrophe sitting in wait!

2. Identify Hazardous Chemicals

chemical bottle protection of a hazardous chemical with GHS symbols that indicate toxicity, corrosivity and contamination

Reading container labels is a start;

When purchasing chemicals, it is a legal requirement that all manufacturers issue a Safety Data Sheet for your consultation. You need to have all SDS sheets on file or you can’t possibly know all the risks that exist! It is also a legal requirement that you have these to hand in the event of an accident or emergency.

Another quick note is if there are any hazardous chemical containers on your site with the older CHIP hazard labels, it would suggest this chemical is now at least three years old and you need to consider safe disposal if the expiry dates are approaching. This is an essential element of correct chemical management.

3. Identify & Assess The Risks

Chemical Risk Assessment - Chempli - Methanol

As a manager, have you assessed your staff’s exposure to chemicals?

You are required to fully review all chemicals running a Chemical Agent Risk Assessment fully considering the following factors:

  • The Amount used or Stored
  • Classification of the Chemical
  • Potential Route Of Exposure
  • Physical, Health & Environmental Hazards
  • Dustiness or Volatility
  • Total Employee Exposure
  • SDS Review
  • Severity V Likelihood Evaluation

4. Implement Identified Controls

Hazardous materials White container and blue drums on an industrial storage site

Once you have assessed the risk associated with the use of chemicals, you are required to identify the control measures necessary to reduce the risks to a reasonable level, another essential for proper chemical management

Ensure you have considered the following the “STOP” principle according to the EU’s Chemical Agents Directive (CAD).

  • Substitution: Is there an alternative material available for your process that is deemed less hazardous?
  • Technological Measures: Is your lab/warehouse adequately ventilated to allow enough air changes/hr to remove harmful vapours from chemicals stored or used?
  • Organisational Measures: Are your chemicals stored safely? How can you reduce employee exposure? Have your employees been trained on how to safely use all hazardous chemicals in your facility? What are your emergency procedures? Have you considered the hazard class of the chemicals? Are you storing flammables? Do your chemicals need to be safely segregated to reduce the risk on your site?
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Wear protective clothing or equipment as identified through risk assessment and where necessary provide appropriate training in its use.

Do you have a Chemical Management System in place currently that you feel addresses your requirements as a manager above? Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you prepared for your next audit?
  • Does the thought of it keep you awake at night?
  • Is your office full of paper copies of your Safety Data Sheets, Incident Reports, Regulatory requirements, staff training files and countless other documents?
  • Have you identified all the chemical risks in your workplace?
  • Do you need a chemical management system that works for you?

If you are unsure or would like to arrange a free no obligations site compliance assessment with a trained professional, please contact Chemstore by clicking here or by using the LiveChat in the bottom left of your browser.

References:

  • www.hse.ie/eng/staff/safetywellbeing/chemical-management/
  • www.osha.europa.eu/en
  • www.hsa.ie/eng/Publications_and_Forms/Publications/Chemical_and_Hazardous_Substances/Your_Steps_to_Chemical_Safety.pdf
  • www.chempli.com

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