• The extensive use of chemicals at work and in our daily life has tremendous consequences for the environment. The results of climate change are globally. All around the world national environmental organizations report the destruction of wildlife species. People are suffering from the lack or the contamination of drinking water. It is high time to take action.

    In order to ensure our future environmental safety and health, it is important to manage chemicals in a more judicious way with regard not only to human health and safety, but to environment, as well. At the workplace, the sound management of chemicals regarding environmental protection includes several steps. At the beginning, it involves the identification and classification of the chemicals and the distribution of information on hazards and protective measures. Then potential exposures or quantities are evaluated. As a result, a risk assessment has to be carried out according to law. Finally, employers need to implement, evaluate, and monitor appropriate control measures for their workers’ health and safety.

    Another critical issue related to the protection of the environment is the release and disposal of chemical waste. Chemical industries and other factories used to dispose their chemicals in the ground, air, and water sources in the area. Unfortunately, in December 1984 the worst industrial accident occurred in a plant in Bhopal, India. After an unintended chemical reaction, over 40 tons of methyl isocyanate gases were released in the air, causing extensive loss of life. People dying from cancer and significant environmental contamination, even after 21 years, are the side effects of this tragedy. However, this incident was the reason for the ILO and its accompanying tools to make fundamental changes in safety and health practices in the chemical industry and develop better hazard control measures.

    The ILO Convention on the Prevention of Major Industrial Accidents, 1993 (No.174) and its accompanying Recommendation (No. 181) focus on examining the potential risk of catastrophic disaster, and planning appropriate preventive measures and emergency response on the basis of an OSH management system. The requirements of this Convention complement the ILO Chemicals Convention (No. 170) by elaborating further on the sound management of chemicals. The ILO has also developed a Code of practice on the prevention of major industrial accidents and a manual on major hazards control to complement the standards.

    Except from the ILO Convention on the Prevention of Major Industrial Accidents, 1993 (No.174) and its accompanying Recommendation (No. 181), which examine the potential risk of catastrophic disaster, and plan appropriate preventive measures and emergency response based on an OSH management system, in 1992, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) endorsed numerous mandates related to chemical control. The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) was one of them.

    In order to ensure the work proceeded in a cooperative and coordinated way, the Inter-organization Program for the Sound Management of Chemicals (IOMC) was established. Its goal is to “promote coordination of the policies and activities pursued by the Participating Organizations, jointly or separately, to achieve the sound management of chemicals in relation to human health and the environment”. Many organizations participate in this group : Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); International Labor Organization (ILO); United Nations’ Development Program (UNDP); United Nations Environment Program (UNEP); United Nations’ Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO); United Nations’ Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR); World Health Organization (WHO); World Bank; and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Their programs and policies have formed the basis for continuing and coordinated strategy for the sound management of chemicals assisting in the evolution of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM).

    This entry was posted on Monday, September 14th, 2015 By

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *