HSC produces chemical exposure proposals

A
new HSC discussion document contains proposals that could make it easier for
firms to comply with laws controlling workers’ exposure to chemicals. 

The
proposals include suggestions for modernising and streamlining the process of
setting occupational exposure limits (OELs) and ideas for linking them to
advice on good practice.

The
document was produced by a working group of the HSC’s Advisory Committee on
Toxic Substances (ACTS), which is made up of industry figures, trade unions and
independent experts. The panel discussed options ranging from minor changes to the
present system to more radical suggestions.

Sandra
Caldwell, chairwoman of ACTS and director of Health Directorate, commented:

"We
want this review to start a debate on what everyone wants from occupational
exposure limits. For example, should we link OELs to good practice advice that
helps firms decide how to control chemicals? Should we change the way we set
OELs? Would firms use a free internet database containing a list of OELs and
linked to more information?" 

Research
carried out in the 1990s showed that industry in general make little use of
current guidance. The working group is keen to hear views from everyone with an
interest in the use of chemicals in the workplace – from employees, employers,
safety representatives to specialists in occupational health and safety.

www.hse.gov.uk/condocs

By Ross Wigham

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