As the rate of innovation and research regarding the development and use of chemicals is rapidly growing, it is critical to increase the investigation for the safety and health aspects of these chemicals.
Many countries have developed laws and implement programs for occupational safety and health (OSHA) in order to protect employees and members of the public who may be exposed to hazardous chemicals. According to the Chemicals Convention, 1990 (No. 170) the term “use of chemicals at work” defines any work activity which may expose a worker to a chemical, including:
• The production;
• The handling;
• The storage;
• And the transport of chemicals;
• The disposal and treatment of waste chemicals;
• The release of chemicals resulting from work activities;
• The maintenance, repair and cleaning of equipment and containers for chemicals;
The laws vary on the scope of the evaluation of the potential impact of chemicals, hazard classification, risk assessment, the required management criteria; and the regulatory implications. In the U.S., the relevant regulatory authority for chemical hazard communication in health and safety at workplaces is the Occupational Safety and Health Agency (OSHA), in chemical transport is the Department of Transportation (DOT);the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) for consumer products; and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for pesticides.
We have to deal with the fact that chemicals are essential not only in many industrial processes, but in our daily life, too. Therefore an effective national OSHA system is necessary for the implementation of national policies and programs on OSHA. A system for the sound management of chemicals should consist of:
• Laws and regulations;
• Law compliance mechanisms, including effective OSHA inspection systems;
• Risk assessment and management measures;
• Cooperation between management and workers and their representatives in the implementation of OSHA measures relevant to the use of chemicals at work;
• Provision of occupational health services;
• Adequate mechanism for the recording and notification of occupational accidents and diseases;
• Awareness raising, OSHA information sharing and training on safety measures in the use of chemicals at work;
• Collaboration between ministries of labor, health and environment.
Employers, workers and their organizations should join their efforts so they successfully fulfill the goals of the national management of chemicals.