OSH Launches Code on Killer Chemicals
Wednesday 19 November 1997
Thousands of New Zealanders are exposed everyday to chemicals that can kill and seriously impair health, the Occupational Safety and Health Service of the Department of Labour announced today.
"Since 1992, OSHs Notifiable Occupational Disease System(1) has received 1570 notifications of diseases linked to the use of hazardous substances in the workplace, including non-asbestosis cancer, chronic solvent neurotoxicity, and other chemical-related diseases," OSH General Manager, Bob Hill said.
"But many incidences go unreported or undetected and, as with many occupational diseases due often to their long latency, we simply dont know how many more workers die and become seriously ill every year," Mr Hill said. "But what we do know is that New Zealanders are becoming ill and are dying."
"Physical hazards in the workplace present an immediate and obvious risk, but the adverse effects of chemical exposure are insidious, and may only become apparent after years of working with a substance."
"After working with industry groups, union agencies and employers we have developed the Code of Practice for the Management of Substances Hazardous to Health (MOSHH). The code sets out a generic approach to assist in the management of hazardous substances in the workplace and compliance with the Health and Safety in Employment Act," said Mr Hill.
"The issue of hazardous substances effects thousands of New Zealand workers and companies involved in activities as diverse as spray-painting, printing, boat-building, farming and film restoration."
"Good and systematic management of the risks from hazardous substances can have a definite economic payoff for employers, while protecting the health of employees and reducing the tragic incidences of work-related death," Mr Hill said.
The launch of the MOSHH code and guidelines will be at The Film Centre in Wellington at 5 pm today.
(1) This is a system whereby health professionals and individuals voluntarily notify a health-related condition which is suspected to arise from work activity.