Hazardous substances as defined by the hazardous substances legislation (Gefahrstoffverordnung - GefStoffV) are substances, mixtures and solutions with one or several categories of danger. They are, for example, toxic, irritant, corrosive, carcinogenic, highly flammable or dangerous for the environment.
Substances that pose a threat to health and safety at the workplace and substances with an occupational exposure limit value are also defined as hazardous substances. The specific work activities have to be taken into consideration, too, since hazardous substances might be generated or released only during certain operations.
Hazardous substances or their packaging must be labelled. The used pictograms and notes show the respective risk potential.
When dealing with proprietary medicinal products or cosmetic products, one might come across dangerous properties without the respective labelling being required. Here, other legal provisions such as the medicinal products act (Arzneimittelgesetz) or the cosmetics regulation (Kosmetikverordnung) are applicable.
Hazardous substances officer
The hazardous substances officer forms the link between occupational health and safety and environmental protection. A well-working waste management creates efficient procedures and legal certainty and protects the health of the members of staff.
Fundamental tasks of the hazardous substances officer:
- compilation of a register of hazardous substances,
- preparation of risk assessments according to article 6 GefStoffV (2), depending on the substances in use, their properties, quantities and exposure conditions,
- advice on suitable personal protective equipment,
- cooperation in substitution assessment (search for replacement substances as per article 6 GefStoffV),
- preparation of operating instructions,
- identification of optimal storage conditions for hazardous substances in the company.