HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES CAUSE 3,000 DEATHS PER YEAR. HOW CAN WE WORK TOGETHER TO PREVENT THIS?
Particulates from various types of wood, quartz and isocyanates are harmful to health, but not everyone who comes into contact with that dust is aware of the serious health risks they are running.
1 in 6 workers are at risk of becoming ill because they work with hazardous substances, and 3,000 of these will even die. These are the harsh facts. It’s time to take action.
Tamara van Ark, State Secretary for the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment, also thinks it’s high time for action:
“Hazardous substances are silent killers. We can only reduce the number of victims caused by working with hazardous substances by all pulling together.”
As a result, the ‘Safe Working with Hazardous Substances’ campaign was launched on 14 May 2018, in which the Ministry raises awareness of the risks and consequences of unsafe working with hazardous substances, and proposes concrete solutions.
WORKING HEALTHILY AND SAFELY
The ministry has published a fact sheet on hazardous substances, with advice on each substance. In all cases, the best solution is to control exposure as much as possible by choosing materials that produce a minimum of hazardous substances.
DUST-FREE TOOLS AND GOOD DUST EXTRACTION
If this is not possible, exposure can also be limited by installing a ventilation system or using even better dust-free tools with local extraction, such as a dust extractor. We asked sanding specialist Jacob Oudijk for his advice:
“It’s unacceptable that people are still at risk of becoming seriously ill at work while there are plenty of options to prevent this. I’ve seen some improvement in practice, but it’s still all too common for people to ignore extraction because they’re carrying out an occasional small task. This doesn’t just affect the worker, it affects all those working nearby.”
According to Oudijk, there’s still plenty of room for progress. “Besides dust-free machines and good extraction, a sanding product with optimum dust extraction is another option for working healthily. It’s also essential that everyone is aware of the risks of hazardous substances in their daily work, so the initiative now being taken by the government is a positive step.”
In some cases, limiting exposure to hazardous substances is not possible, in which case good respiratory protection is required. We asked respiratory protection specialist Jan Willem de Winter for his advice:
“My personal mission is to raise awareness about the importance of good respiratory protection. No one has to become ill because of their work, so I advise every user of respiratory protection to look into all the tools and options. Don’t settle for a sales pitch or unclear instructions, but keep asking questions until you have all the facts to make a careful choice,” says De Winter.
It’s also important that users of respiratory protection receive some brief training in advance. De Winter regularly sees masks being used incorrectly. “A mask must always be worn on the face, meaning against the skin. Wearing a mask on top of the material of an overall means that the protection factor cannot be guaranteed anymore.”
WOULD YOU LIKE TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT RESPIRATORY PROTECTION AND WORKING DUST-FREE?
Then please call our specialists on +31 (0)88 130 6775, or fill in the online contact form.