How to safely manage dangerous substances

How to safely manage dangerous substances

The five most dangerous substances that workers in Europe are exposed to have been named as silica, asbestos, solvents, non-infectious biological agents and wood dust. This is one of the main conclusions of a recent study conducted by the Institute of Occupational Medicine and commissioned by EU-OSHA, the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work.

The research also listed the top 5 sectors where workers are most at risk from dangerous substances:

  1. Trade and repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles
  2. Manufacturing of chemicals and other chemical products
  3. Services to buildings and landscape activities
  4. Manufacturing of rubber and plastic products
  5. Specialised construction activities

The study’s findings highlight the need to educate, train and inform workers about the hazards associated with working with dangerous substances and the importance of employers supplying PPE and protective clothing to protect workers’ health and safety.

Shared responsibility for safety

Creating a culture of shared responsibility for health and safety and having everyone understand the level of risk in your workplace is the most essential step in managing the safety of your workers. All members of your team should be aligned to your safety and health culture and be fully trained and updated on documentation and procedures relating to the dangerous substances used in your workplace.

Use the EU-OSHA Healthy Workplaces Dangerous Substances e-tool to understand your legal obligations and get advice on how to manage dangerous substances. By entering information about your company, you will receive tailored information on risks, labelling, legislation, prevention and protection.

Managing dangerous substances in your workplace

Prevention is the only acceptable way of managing dangerous substances in the workplace. The steps for creating a prevention culture in your workplace include:

  • Conducting a risk assessment – employers and managers should complete a comprehensive risk assessment and keep this updated.
  • Raising awareness – train your workforce on the risks identified and how to eliminate the risks.
  • Understanding the law – ensure all legal responsibilities are adhered to and employees are trained to understand the law.
  • Providing practical tools – most countries have set guidelines for how to deal with dangerous substances effectively (also known as the Occupational Safety and Health legal requirements). Such tools are essential to all workers and should be available onsite. It is also crucial to offer appropriate PPE, protective clothing and accessories, and guidance on how to use this equipment is vital to the prevention of exposure. There is a hierarchy of prevention, with specific equipment for industry sectors.

Contego Safety Solutions offers a comprehensive range of workwear, safety clothing and equipment, PPE and accessories, and an unsurpassed level of customer service.

Find out more about Contego Safety Solutions’ extensive range by downloading the Contego Catalogue now, visiting our website or contacting our friendly team on 0800 122 3323 or

Published on 14 May 2019


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