Friday, June 27, 2014

Step 2: Examine Current Chemical Use - Prioritize


While it is important to consider transitioning to safer alternatives for each of the hazardous chemicals used in your workplace, you do not have to pursue substitution activities for every chemical immediately. Instead, you should work with your team to identify priorities to maximize the use of limited resources. Chemicals can be prioritized based on various criteria, including, but not limited to: hazard, exposure, risk, regulation potential, established company policies, interests of relevant stakeholders, and substitution potential. OSHA 300 logs may also provide helpful information about what chemical uses and exposures are of greatest concern in your workplace. Setting these priorities could reflect the larger goals in your work plan for transitioning to safer chemicals or help you further refine your work plan.

Key Resource

Prioritization Matrix

European Commission's Prioritization Matrix

The European Commission’s Guidance on Minimizing Chemical Risk to Workers’ Health and Safety Through Substitution provides a risk matrix tool that can be used for prioritization. The tool combines a qualitative evaluation of hazard and exposure potential to identify chemicals that could be good targets for substitution efforts. The matrix uses hazard categories found on a Safety Data Sheet to rank the hazard level of the chemical from1 (low hazard) to 5 (very high hazard). The matrix uses information about where, how often, and in what way the chemical is used to rank exposure potential from 1 (low exposure) to 5 (very high exposure) with regards to working/process conditions, physical properties affecting exposure, frequency or duration of use, quantity used, and accident potential. Combining the qualitative hazard and exposure potential scores allows you to identify chemicals with the highest risk and greatest potential for substitution.

Accessibility Assistance: Contact OSHA's Directorate of Standards and Guidance at (202) 693-1950 for assistance accessing DOC, EPS, GIF, MP4, PDF, PPT or XLS documents.

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