The rules around managing hazardous substances that affect human health and safety in the workplace are about to change. Legal requirements for the management of hazardous substances are presently set out under the HSNO Act 1996, but from 1st December 2017 this Act will be replaced by the Hazardous Substances Regulations.
What are hazardous substances?
You may think it's obvious, but many businesses aren't even aware that they have hazardous substances in their workplaces, let alone that the company has obligations to manage them. It's important to understand what is classified as hazardous and know if you have any of these products in your workplace.
Do you use any of these in your workplace: Paints, primers, sealants, resins, adhesives, foams, inks, cleaning chemicals, solvents, acids, fuels, oils, lubricants, concrete, mortar or compressed gasses? If you do, you will probably have duties under the Hazardous Substances Regulations.
Put simply, a hazardous substance is one that has the potential to cause a person harm. Remember that harm may be acute, such as a burn, an eye injury or an allergic reaction, or it may be chronic, such as long-term health effects like cancers, respiratory disease and organ damage.
Under the regulations a hazardous substance means any substance that is explosive, flammable, corrosive, toxic, or has the ability to oxidise. Substances may fall under more than one classification.
What do you need to do?
From a practical perspective, the most important steps to take are:
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