Guidance and tools for workers
The manufacture and use of an increasing number of nanomaterials is being up-scaled from the laboratory to industrial settings increasing the potential for exposure to nanomaterials in the workplace. The science and practice of measuring and assessing worker exposure to nanomaterials are rapidly evolving. Although there are still scientific uncertainties about the assessment of workplace exposure, the EU has already developed guidance and safety standards for protecting the health and safety of workers.
Guidance on the protection of the health and safety of workers from the potential risks related to nanomaterials at work
The guidance sets out a seven-step risk assessment and risk management approach with advice for employers, workers, and health and safety professionals for ensuring that the different European directives in the field of nanomaterials and nanotechnology are applied correctly at the workplace. The guidance contains an annex that lists guidance on nanomaterials in the workplace issued by individual Member States in their respective languages.
The guidance gives useful information to workers who may be exposed to nanomaterials, including:
- simplified information on the potential risks of nanomaterials in the workplace;
- how workers may get exposed to nanomaterials;
- a hierarchy of risk management and control options; and
- examples of risk management measures for nanomaterials.
There are already a number of tools that can assist in the risk assessment and risk management of nanomaterials in the workplace. These tools help to deal with uncertainties and limitations imposed by the lack of information on the hazards of nanomaterials. Some of the tools are web-based and interactive while others are included in guidance documents or other publications.
The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) has published a brief e-fact outlining the available tools and discussing their benefits and limitations.
- European Agency for Safety and Health at Work: E-fact 72: Tools for the management of nanomaterials in the workplace and prevention measures
- European Agency for Health and Safety at Work: Managing Nanomaterials at the Workplace
- World Health Organisation: Guidelines on Protecting Workers From Potential Risks of Manufactured Nanomaterials