The Safety, Health and Welfare At Work (Chemical Agents) Regulations, 2001 and the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Chemical Agents) (Amendment) Regulations 2015 apply to any enterprise where hazardous chemical agents are used or generated. The amendment is as a result of the CLP Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008 on the classification, packaging and labelling of substances and mixtures and updates to other primary legislation. (Please note that the COSHH or Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations are UK Regulations and do not apply)
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 or generated, for example, cleaning chemicals or welding, then the Regulations apply.
“chemical agent” means any chemical element or compound, on its own or admixed, as it occurs in the natural state or as produced, used or released, including release as waste, by any work activity, whether or not produced intentionally and whether or not placed on the market.
“activity” means any work in which chemical agents or hazardous chemical agents are used, or are intended to be used, in any process, including production, handling, storage, transport or disposal and treatment, or which result from such work.
The employer must identify all the chemical agents at his/her enterprise so a chemical inventory (List) is a good idea.
The risk assessments should be based on activities involving chemicals - the risk depends not only on the chemical or chemicals (many activities involve more than one) but also on how it is being used or generated.
The Regulations lay down requirements to:
- Determine the hazards (See Label, Safety Data Sheet, industry guidance), associated with the activity
- Assess the risk (what is the exposure?, how much exposure? For how long? How often?) to employees and others
- Put prevention and control measures in place following the risk assessment
- Make arrangements to deal with accidents, incidents and emergencies
- Make arrangements for information, training and consulting their employees
- Provide appropriate health surveillance
- Keep exposure records
In the case of a new activity involving hazardous chemical agents, work shall not commence until after an assessment of the risk of that activity has been made and the preventive measures identified in the risk assessment have been implemented.
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.