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News

Practical advice on working with chemicals

HSE InfoLine : 26 February, 2004  (Company News)
Firms working with chemicals will be able to get free online advice on how to protect people and the environment. A new web tool will for the first time bring together the regulation of occupational health, safety at work and the environment. The tool, Chemical Essentials, is being developed by the Health and Safety Executive, the Environment Agency and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.
Firms working with chemicals will be able to get free online advice on how to protect people and the environment. A new web tool will for the first time bring together the regulation of occupational health, safety at work and the environment. The tool, Chemical Essentials, is being developed by the Health and Safety Executive, the Environment Agency and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.

At a conference today, inviting stakeholders to test the demonstration model and to support its development into a fully-fledged product, Chairman of the Health and Safety Commission Bill Callaghan said:
'In Great Britain, at least 12,000 new cases of illness and injury due to exposure to hazardous substances at work arise each year and around 4,000 are serious. Employers, particularly small businesses, need to recognise that the branded product they are using could actually harm their own health or that of their workforce.

'We want to develop channels of support and advice that can be accessed without fear of enforcement action. Chemical Essentials, which does not introduce any new legal duties, is in keeping with this supportive approach. It will give free practical help to hairdressers, florists and motor vehicle repairs, among others, on how to control hazardous substances that can cause asthma, skin disease and even cancer.'

Ceri Davies, Head of Air and Chemicals Policy at the Environment Agency, said:
'Small and medium-sized businesses may be responsible for over 50% of the pollution incidents in England and Wales, but they do not always have the resources to address environmental issues. That is why we must provide clear, readily understandable information and support. Chemical Essentials will help us do this but we must first obtain further funding to carry the project to completion.'

Ken Pugh, Chemicals Management Policy Advisor at the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, commented:

'Chemical Essentials is a great joint initiative which could result in better understanding of chemicals and their risks to human health and the environment. SEPA believes prevention is better than cure and the approach of Chemical Essentials, giving clear and accessible advice, is a very good way to achieve this.'
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