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13/09/2018

Discover real-life examples of how to successfully manage dangerous substances

A key aim of the Healthy Workplaces Manage Dangerous Substances campaign is to help organisations on a practical level by providing them with recommendations, case studies and good practice examples. To give you some inspiration, we look at what 3 organisations did to control/manage dangerous substances in the workplace.

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photograph courtesy of Pascal Poiron, Cramif

Following our last news article which focused on elimination and substitution, we now turn our attention to some organisational and technological measures that have been implemented in organisations across Europe. If applicable, you can replicate or tailor them to your own workplace.

Improved technology to protect workers from dangerous substances

Investing in new and cleaner technology is one option that can greatly reduce risks to workers’ health, especially for those in at-risk sectors such as the automotive repair industry. The manager of the DEKRA workshop in France, a small enterprise, with the help of external experts from Cramif (French statutory social security organisation for the Paris region), developed a new exhaust extraction system which drastically reduced exposures to diesel fumes and gasoline exhaust.

Workers were happy with the change as the system is easy to handle and is relatively quiet and improved their conditions considerably. It has already been used as a model for improvements to other vehicle inspection pits, and similar systems can be designed for truck workshops.

Chemical safety made part of an overall strategy

Companies can also integrate chemical safety into an overall strategy to improve efficiency. This was done by Saku Metal AS in Estonia to help prevent workers’ exposure to hazardous substances, as well as to raise awareness.

The measures mainly focused on the reorganisation of the workplace. A storage system for chemicals was introduced along with clear routines, procedures and instructions. The organisational structure and scope of responsibilities was defined at all work levels and ‘war-room’ meetings are now held to solve everyday problems. The results were very positive and are something other organisations can easily replicate at little cost.

Involving workers in the identification of risks and organisational changes

At Latvian pharmaceutical company Grindeks, they decided to take a holistic approach to minimising exposure to dangerous chemicals, as well as to heat and noise. A key focus was on the active involvement of workers which allowed for better assessment of their needs and expectations.  

Workers were involved in risk assessments, group discussions and answered a questionnaire. Suggestions from workers resulted in organisational changes, while pregnant and breastfeeding workers were given roles free from exposure to dangerous substances. Special courses were also introduced across all departments dealing with hazardous substances.

As a result workers’ awareness of risks and safety measures increased. This also led to a higher levels of job satisfaction and better compliance with safety requirements. This approach is applicable to any laboratory dealing with hazardous chemicals and it can also be tailored to other workplaces.

You can find more examples of good practice at the case studies section of the campaign website, as well as other practical tools and guidance for employers. And don’t forget to follow the latest campaign developments on FacebookLinkedIn and Twitter (#EUhealthyworkplaces).