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RR983 - Assessment of exposure to carcinogens and asthmagens in the contract import, processing and repackaging industries

The aim of this research was to assess the effectiveness of exposure controls at small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) carrying out the import, reprocessing and repackaging of chemical carcinogens and asthmagens.

Visits were made to 10 companies which decant and repack chemicals including carcinogens and asthmagens. The visits examined handling practices and exposure controls, and included, where possible, a quantitative exposure assessment, either by biological monitoring or air sampling.

Although there were some examples of good practice, overall, this survey found that control of exposure was variable in its effectiveness. Deficiencies in COSHH assessments (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) and/or inadequacies in engineering controls (LEV - Local Exhaust Ventilation) and/or PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) were found at all but one site visited.

Recommendations for improvements to management systems and/or exposure control were made for all but one site. Recommendations included the need to improve LEV systems; to introduce health surveillance programmes; and to improve PPE programmes, including ensuring the introduction of fit testing for Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE), undertaking routine RPE maintenance and ensuring correct glove selection.

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Updated 2014-01-03