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Overview Hazardous substances in the workplace A systematic approach to managing risks, including: - identifying hazardous substances - assessing risk - controlling risk Maintaining a safe workplace Victorian Occupational Health and Safety (Hazardous Substances) Regulations 1999

Topic 1. Hazardous substances in the workplace: 

Topic 1. Hazardous substances in the workplace What are hazardous substances? Forms of hazardous substances Routes of exposure Harm from hazardous substances

What are hazardous substances?: 

What are hazardous substances? chemicals and other substances which can cause injury or illness classified as hazardous by the manufacturer or importer, using: - ‘The List’, or - strict criteria once classified as hazardous: - must be labelled as hazardous or have other warnings - ‘Material Safety Data Sheet’ (MSDS) must state product is “hazardous”.

Dangerous goods?: 

Dangerous goods? Hazardous substances: classified on the basis of health effects only > Hazardous Substances Regulations Dangerous goods: classified on the basis of immediate physical or chemical effects (e.g. fire, explosion, corrosion, poisoning ) > Dangerous Goods Act 1985 and associated regulations Many hazardous substances are also dangerous goods > Both sets of legislation apply

Potentially harmful substances not covered by the Regulations: 

Potentially harmful substances not covered by the Regulations substances not related to a work activity substances covered by other legislation, e.g. radioactive substances, micro-organisms, asbestos, some forms of lead Substances produced as by-products or waste products, of work processes not involving hazardous substances Occupational Health and Safety Act 1985 applies if the Regulations don’t.


Hazardous Substances Regulations apply Compliance with the Regulations is compliance with the Act ‘Hazardous substances’ & their by-products Substances not classified as ‘hazardous’ General duties of care apply

Forms of chemicals: 

Forms of chemicals solids (incl. dusts, powders) - have a definite shape liquids - substances that flow mists - when a liquid is broken up into small droplets vapours - liquids that have evaporated into the air gases - move freely in the air solid liquid vapour mist


Routes of exposure breathing (inhalation) direct contact (skin or eyes) swallowing (ingestion) Direct contact with skin Inhalation Eye absorption Ingestion

Effects of hazardous substances can be:: 

Effects of hazardous substances can be: Acute resulting, usually immediately, from a short-term exposure (e.g. corrosive burns, inhaling a toxic gas, eye irritation) Chronic resulting from long-term, often low-level, exposure; might not appear for many years; are hard to predict; it can be hard to work out what caused them.


HARM FROM HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES ACUTE HEALTH EFFECTS Redness, irritation, watery (eyes) Sneezing, coughing, sore throat (nose & throat) Blue gums (gums) Lower brain activity convulsions, headaches, fatigue, muscle weakness (brain, nerves, muscles) Bronchitis, asthma attacks shortness of breath chemical burns (lungs & respiratory system) Death (heart) Poisoning (stomach) Jaundice (liver) Acute renal failure (kidney) Spontaneous abortions, miscarriages (reproductive system) Anaemia metabolic complications (blood) Skin irritation chemical burns (skin) NB: some effects can be both acute and chronic CHRONIC HEALTH EFFECTS Blindness (eyes) Nasal & throat cancer (nose & throat) Corrosion of tooth enamel (teeth) Loss of brain function behavioural changes to personality & thinking (brain) Fibrosis, cancer, asthma (lungs & respiratory system) Immune system damage (spleen) Arrhythmias (heart) Metabolic disorders (digestive system) Cirrhosis (liver), fibrosis Chronic kidney disease (kidneys) bladder cancer Loss of reproductive capacity, birth deformities, genetic mutations (reproductive system) Aplastic anaemia leukemia (blood) Dermatitis (skin)

A ‘safe’ level of exposure?: 

A ‘safe’ level of exposure? Exposure standards— ‘Airborne concentrations of individual substances [in a person’s breathing zone], which, according to current knowledge, should neither impair health nor cause undue discomfort to nearly all workers’ Not fine dividing lines between safe and dangerous concentrations Concentration must be kept as low as practicable below any exposure standard

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