In an increasingly regulated workplace environment it is vitally important that employers provide safe working conditions and offer healthcare support for employees, particularly when working in hazardous environments.
Implementation of effective safety measures and health benefits for employees can also help organisations achieve greater success in today’s challenging marketplaces
Argentic provides a range of cost-effective monitoring and analysis services for reduction of risk and prevention of harm that are designed to enable organisations to meet their needs for occupational health management.
The Regulatory environment
HSW Act – COSHH 2002
In the UK hazardous compounds are covered by COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) regulations. Data must be provided for harmful compounds in the workplace, highlighting the health risks of such substances, and giving information on containment, disposal, and clean-up.
Appropriate health and safety protective measures must be detailed, and companies must put in place health care checks designed to monitor and minimise exposure.
Under COSHH employers are required to –
MSDS ( Material Safety Data Sheets ) – Marine cargoes
The Marine Safety Committee (MSC) of The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has approved and adopted the revised guidelines for material safety data sheets (MSDS) to be supplied to a ship prior to bunkering fuel oil or gas oil in accordance with Annex 1 and Annex 2 of SOLAS regulation VI/5-1. This entered into force on 1 July 2009.
The aim of the MSDS is to provide seafarers with clear, concise and accurate information on health and the environmental effects of toxic substances. These rules will apply to oil cargoes and bunkers, as well as chemicals.
The rules require the MSDS to detail the full identification of the substance and the supplier, identification of hazards, composition of the substance and first-aid measures, information on fire fighting, accidental release, handling and storage and finally exposure.
For such cargoes the content of benzene must also be included, and a declaration relating to persistent or non persistent oil.
MLC ( Maritime Labor Convention )
First drawn up in 2006, these wide ranging regulations will make mandatory the provision of consistent and appropriate health, safety and welfare for all seafarers.
Under the code it will be necessary to demonstrate, when requested, that systems are in place for monitoring the health and safety of those working with, or potentially exposed to, dangerous cargoes. Benzene is widely transported as a cargo, and is also present at high concentrations in crude oil and bunker (fuel) oil. There is therefore considerable potential for benzene exposure for maritime workers.
Other areas covered by the MLC include drinking water quality and safety, and food quality, variety and suitability for the needs of religious and ethnic groups.
A number of signatory flag states have drawn up their standards for MLC compliance, and it is expected that with full International ratification the MLC will come in to effect during 2012.
OHSA regulations define permissible levels of benzene in the workplace. The maximum allowable amount of benzene in workroom air during an 8-hour workday, 40-hour workweek is 1 ppm. Because benzene can cause cancer, NIOSH recommends that all workers wear special breathing equipment when they are likely to be exposed to benzene at levels exceeding the recommended (8-hour) exposure limit of 0.1 ppm.
REACH 2007 (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of Chemicals) and SDS ( Safety Data Sheets )
Information to be provided on a SDS includes –
The recent implementation of REACH by the EC will now highlight benzene as a SHVC ( substances of very high concern) as it is a known carcinogen and mutagen.
Safety data sheets should also include exposure scenarios which describe the operating conditions and risk management measures that have been identified by the supplier as necessary to use the chemical safely in your process.
RIDDOR ( Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations, 1995)
Under RIDDOR an employer is required to report to the Health and Safety Executive if :