Metal industry’s technical rule on carcinogenic substances
In Germany, occupational safety and health (OSH) is embodied in and shaped by numerous laws, regulations, and ordinances with a view to ensuring the safety and health of workers in the workplace. The “Technical Rules for Hazardous Substances” (TRGS) reflect the state of technology, occupational safety and health and occupational hygiene as well as other definite knowledge relating to activities involving hazardous substances (including their classification and labelling).
Recently the regulation ‘TRGS 561 Activities involving carcinogenic metals and their compounds’ has been published. It describes the legal requirements and the conditions under which these carcinogenic substances can be handled safely.
Employees in various industries and areas come across carcinogenic metals in the workplace. Examples of these metals and their compounds are: Arsenic compounds, beryllium and beryllium compounds, cadmium and inorganic cadmium compounds, chromium compounds, cobalt and cobalt compounds and nickel compounds. Working with these substances may involve a high risk. Employers are obliged to keep the exposure levels as low as possible; the TRGS helps them to meet the requirements set by the ordinance on occupation health care.
A TRGS specifies the requirements of the German Hazardous Substances Ordinance (GefStoffV) and the Ordinance on Occupational Health Care (ArbMedVV). By complying with these Technical Rules, the employer may therefore assume that the corresponding requirements of the ordinance have been fulfilled. The main objective of these TRGS is to achieve an exposure level below the tolerable concentration. The TRGS also gives general protective measures for working with hazardous substances.
The TRGS helps employers to meet the legal requirements. This will ensure a safer workplace for employees working with carcinogenic metals and will reduce the number of cancer victims in the future.