Implementation of Chemical Health Risk Assessment in Teaching Laboratories

By Husin, Siti Nurul Hunadia; Mohamad, Abu Bakar et al. | Asian Social Science, December 2012 | Go to article overview

Implementation of Chemical Health Risk Assessment in Teaching Laboratories


Husin, Siti Nurul Hunadia, Mohamad, Abu Bakar, Abdullah, Siti Rozaimah Sheikh, Anuar, Nurina, Asian Social Science


Abstract

The Department of Chemical & Process Engineering (JKKP) is committed and actively working to providing a safe lab environment for students and staff. Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994, it is one of the main responsibilities of the employer to protect and safeguard employees or consumers from the adverse effects of chemicals at the work place. The objective of this study was to identify the risk and evaluate the level of exposure of chemicals involved. A Chemical Health Risk Assessment (CHRA) has been conducted on chemical usage at the teaching labs with the purpose to allow decisions to be made on appropriate control measures, training of employees, monitoring and health surveillance activities that may be needed to protect the health of staffand students who may be exposed to chemicals hazardous to health. Furthermore, it is also to evaluate the sufficiency of the current control measures practiced by the staffand students of the department. The procedure was carried out by detailed and qualitative assessment, based on site visit, observation of employees during task of handling chemicals, reviewing lab work procedures and manual, as well as other related documents and records. Results showed that hazards of the chemicals were determined through information obtained from a register of chemicals list and Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). Prevention and mitigation measures by a proactive approach were taken to minimize health risks during the learning and research process.

Keywords: CHRA, occupational safety and health, chemicals, risk rating, hazardous

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1. Introduction

In the learning process, the use of chemicals is common among students and lab staffwho are specifically involved in chemical research and management. The safety and health of individuals involved must always be safeguarded especially the students, researchers, technicians and lab assistants who are continuously exposed to hazardous chemicals. It is the general responsibility of an employer under the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994 (514 Act), whereby the employer is required to provide a safe working environment for his employees and other related individuals.

The Department of Chemical and Process Engineering constantly ensures a safe and healthy working environment, other than improving the safety risk management system at the labs. The department's labs have also been audited by the National University's Internal Audit Unit, SIRIM and also, the Engineering Accreditation Council Malaysia (EAC). This is in tandem with the National University's Occupational Safety and Health Policy (2010), which is committed and strives to create a safe and healthy working environment for all, including its customers, through organized work culture that is supported by each and every employee and student. In order to continue the betterment of current safety management system, a chemical health risk assessment has been conducted on the use of chemicals at the teaching labs, especially those that pose a high risk to health. The risk assessment began its first phase on 19 May 2011, which is then followed by the second and third phase by a main consultant, Datuk Ir. Ahmad Nordeen bin Dato' Mohd Salleh from the Lloyd's Register Technical Services Sdn. Bhd., who is registered with the Department of Occupational Safety and Health Malaysia. Datuk Ir. Ahmad Nordeen is also a member of the Faculty Advisory Board at the department for the Chemical Engineering programme, between November 2009 until October 2011. The purpose of this assessment is to allow the identification and evaluation of the risks involved and the level of exposure to chemicals handled at the labs. Furthermore, it is also to evaluate the sufficiency of the current control measures practiced by the staffand students to make sure that the chemical exposure limit is not exceeded.

2. Methodology

The chemical health risk assessment was a process that utilizes a systematic approach, namely identifying the hazards, processes in hazardous chemical use and management, evaluation of the hazard risk, the sufficiency and effectiveness of current control measures, and identifying the level of risk at the work place. …

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