Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Step 4: Assess & Compare - Assess Hazard

Assess Hazard

After identifying the most promising alternatives, the hazard, performance, and cost of each alternative should be assessed and compared. Selecting the relevant hazard criteria is the first step of your evaluation. To improve worker health and safety, some hazards you might consider for your evaluation include:

Acute Health Hazards

  • Acute toxicity
  • Eye damage
  • Skin damage
  • Sensitization (e.g., skin, respiratory)

Safety Hazards

  • Corrosivity
  • Flammability
  • Reactivity
  • Explosivity
  • Oxidizing properties
  • Pyrophoric properties

Chronic Health Hazards

  • Chronic Toxicity
  • Target Organ Toxicity
  • Carcinogenicity
  • Mutagenicity/Genotoxicity
  • Reproductive Toxicity
  • Developmental Toxicity
  • Endocrine Disruption
  • Neurotoxicity
  • Immune System Effects

Use Hazards

  • Physical form of the chemical
  • Procedural hazards (e.g., open process, direct skin contact)
  • Ergonomic hazards
  • Noise hazards
  • Vibration hazards
Several existing resources identify hazards that could be included in your evaluation. SUBSPORT’s compilation of hazard criteria (health, environmental, and physical) provides information about which characteristics are associated with substances of concern. The EPA’s Design for the Environment Safer Product Labeling Program has also developed hazard criteria for chemicals used in formulated products. The Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Institute’s P2OASys Tool provides hazard criteria relevant to chemical, material, and process changes in the workplace.
As part of the hazard assessment, it is also important to understand whether alternatives will significantly change working conditions (i.e., the way in which the chemical is used by workers or the way in which workers are exposed to the chemical). This will allow you to identify any additional hazards the alternatives may present to workers. Be sure to consider upstream or downstream hazards to workers – in disassembly, making the new chemical, etc.
A number of tools are available to help you rapidly assess and compare health and physical hazards of identified alternatives. The Column Model, the Quick Chemical Assessment Tool, and the Green Screen™ can help assess and compare health, physical, and environmental hazards of identified alternatives.
Comparative chemical hazard assessment methods and tools rely on the collection of data from a variety of sources. The U.S. EPA DfE’s Alternatives Assessment Criteria *(PDF) document provides information on data quality considerations in evaluating and comparing chemical hazards and Clean Production Action’s Green Screen™ Tool identifies authoritative and screening data sources *(PDF) for each endpoint evaluated in the tool. While these resources can help you locate hazard information that is readily accessible, there are many chemicals for which this type of information is unavailable. In these cases, suppliers can also be a critical source of hazard information.

Key Example

The Column Model

The Column Model

The Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the German Federation of Institutions for Statutory Accident Insurance and Prevention (IFA) developed the Column Model to help small and medium-sized businesses assess substitute substances on the basis of just a small amount of information derived from safety data sheets. The model is based on six hazard categories (acute health hazards, chronic health hazards, fire and explosion hazards, environmental hazards, exposure potential, and process hazards), which are divided into different risk levels, ranked from negligible to very high. Users identify the risk level for each substance using the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) hazard classifications and information about how the substance is used. Preferred substitutes are then identified by comparing the risk levels in each of the hazard categories. In most situations, alternatives do not have the lowest risk level in all hazard categories. Users must decide which potential hazards are more relevant for the workplace where the product is used, taking into consideration the possibilities to control or manage the different risks.

Key Example

Quick Chemical Hazard Assessment (QCAT)

The Quick Chemical Hazard Assessment (QCAT)

Developed by the Washington Department of Ecology, the Quick Chemical Assessment Tool (QCAT) is designed to help small and medium-sized businesses evaluate hazards associated with alternatives to toxic chemicals. QCAT uses a subset of nine high priority hazard endpoints (6 human health effects endpoints, persistence, bioaccumulation, and acute aquatic toxicity) to identify a level of concern for each chemical being evaluated. This evaluation places chemicals along a continuum of concern and assigns a chemical one of four possible grades (A, B, C, F). These results provide a quick and easy method to identify chemicals that are equally or more toxic than the chemical being reviewed, allowing users to leverage limited resources to rapidly identify chemicals that are not viable alternatives to the chemical being assessed.

Key Example

Pollution Prevention Options Analysis System (P2OASys)

The Pollution Prevention Options Analysis System (P2OASys)

The Toxics Use Reduction Institute developed the Pollution Prevention Options Analysis System (P2OASys) to help companies determine whether the options they are considering to replace chemicals, materials, products, or processes of concern may have unforeseen negative worker, public health, or environmental impacts. Companies using P2OASys input both quantitative and qualitative data on the chemical toxicity, ecological effects, physical properties, and changes in work organization as a result of the proposed option. The tool arrays data on a range of hazards and the chemical under evaluation receives a score, based on embedded formulae in an excel spreadsheet, for each type of hazard that indicates very low to very high risk. These scores can then be combined with other information sources and professional expertise to make decisions on the selection and adoption of alternatives.

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