EU/OSHA Continue 2018/2019 Healthy Workplaces Campaign

‪Dangerous substances are more common than you think!  Are you familiar with the risks of the substances you handle? Are they being properly managed? EU-OSHA has launched an awareness campaign on how to manage dangerous substances at work, including the use of Safety Data Sheets, and the correct labelling of chemicals.

‪‪Knowing and controlling the risks of dangerous substances

Workplace safety depends on risk awareness. Employers and workers need to know what dangerous substances are in the workplace and how to deal with them. This guide offers hints for successful communication about dangerous substances in the workplace and outlines how REACH and CLP aim to improve communication about the risks involved.

‪What is the campaign about?‬

The aim of the campaign is to also raise awareness in those sectors where awareness is lower – many of which are service sectors such as hairdressing, cleaning, maintenance or the healthcare sectors. The campaign particularly aims to reach out to these sectors and help employers assess the relevant risks and prevent them.

‪In many businesses, in particular SMEs, there are misconceptions that they do not use dangerous substances, they are not affected by them and therefore there is no risk to their workers. However, experience shows that chemicals may be present at almost every workplace and there is a need to promote a preventive culture in companies.‬

‪In the campaign, a dangerous substance is considered to be any substance that poses a risk to workers’ safety and health. It can be in a gas, liquid or solid form, including aerosols, fumes and vapours and can include manufactured and process-generated substances, such as diesel exhaust or silica dust, and natural substances like crude oil or flour dust.‬

Which sectors are most affected?

‪Almost every sector is affected as the campaign looks at all dangerous substances, not only manufactured chemicals. The scope of the campaign includes process-generated substances such as dusts or fumes, or substances of natural origin.

‪Just because a product has natural constituents does not necessarily mean it is safe or without any risks. All kinds of substances can be hazardous – for example, asbestos is a natural mineral but is known to cause serious lung diseases and lung cancer. A seemingly safe substance, such as flour dust, can also cause serious health issues.‬

‪Many EU countries have developed guidance on how to effectively prevent bakers’ asthma and they have run inspections and awareness-raising campaigns. This involves dust-avoiding work techniques, adequate local exhaust ventilation for some machinery and proper cleaning techniques, as well as innovative dust-avoiding flour mixtures.‬

‪What are the main steps for managing dangerous substances at work?‬

‪Employers need to carry out a workplace risk assessment and know which substances are used. They should:‬

  • ‪make an inventory of substances, including the process-generated substances;‬
  • ‪identify the hazards using different information sources, CLP labels, safety data sheets, sectoral guidance, or risk assessment tools;‬
  • ‪assess the exposure (the intensity, frequency and duration, and who is affected, for how long, and how often; taking into account any combined effects); and‬
  • ‪set measures according to the hierarchy of prevention (including an action plan setting out who will implement the measures, by when and any necessary maintenance or repair work for incidents). This needs to take into account any workers that may be particularly at risk as well as any training needs.‬
    ‪The workplace risk assessment would need to be regularly updated and, in any case, whenever an incident occurs or a health issue is reported.‬


Make sure to find out about your obligations and how to properly manage dangerous substances in the workplace.

‪Download the Dangerous Substances & Successful Workplace Communication PDF.

Visit the Healthy Workplaces campaign page, for more information.


Hibiscus Plc has been providing software and labelling solutions for dangerous goods retailers and wholesale chemical suppliers for over 35 years.‪ ‬

HIBISCUS can provide help and solutions for all forms of hazardous goods labelling and Safety data sheets.