Chemical Agents

chemical jar

The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Chemical Agents) Regulations, 2001 and 2015 apply to any enterprise where hazardous chemical agents are used or generated. “Chemical Agent” is the legal term and is defined in the Regulations but suffice it to say any substance, chemical, preparation or mixture comes under the remit of these Regulations.

The enterprise does not have to be involved in the manufacture of some substance or mixture to come under the requirements of these Regulations. Once any hazardous substance is used, for example, even a cleaning or sterilising material, then the Regulations apply.

The employer must identify all the chemical agents at his/her enterprise,( a chemical inventory is a good idea),  determine the hazards associated with them (See Label, SDS, industry guidance), evaluate the risks and put appropriate measures in place to protect employees. This is the essentials of a Risk Assessment (RA).An example of a risk assessment template can be found here.

The Regulations also lay down requirements to:

  • Put prevention and control measures in place following the risk assessment
  • Make arrangements to deal with accidents, incidents and emergencies
  • Provide information and training
  • Make arrangements for consulting with their employees
  • Provide appropriate health surveillance
  • Keep exposure records

The Regulations enable the publication of an approved Code of Practice (1.4 MB) which lists occupational exposure limit values (OELV's) for about 700 chemical agents.

These Regulations give legal effect to Directive 98/24/EC.

Further information