Chemical agents - Yleistä


General information on topic

Occupational chemical agents include chemicals used at work, such as chemical raw materials and detergents, paints, oils, lubricants and waste oils used in the workplace. Chemical agents also include chemical exposure agents, such as fumes, vapours and exhaust fumes produced as a result of working. Hazardous chemical agents pose a risk to the health and safety of employees.

Employers need to identify any chemical risk factors present in the workplace, assess the risks posed to employees and take any necessary action to mitigate the risks. Risk assessment refers to a process of identifying the risks associated with each task in the workplace and deciding what action needs to be taken.

The handling of hazardous chemicals can also involve a risk of accidents. Examples of these substances include highly flammable and oxidising substances that can pose a risk of fire and explosion.

Risks can also be caused by incompatible substances that react with each other, producing excess pressure or heat or toxic gaseous compounds. These kinds of substance combinations include, among others, strong acids and flammable substances, oxidising and organic substances, various metals and acids.

Chemical agents - Työntekijälle


Instructions for employee

Always follow the work and safety instructions provided by your employer. Let your employer’s representative know about any issues immediately in accordance with the instructions you have been given. Your employer has a duty to tell you about the hazards associated with your work and provide advice on how to protect yourself against them.

If there are any dangerous chemicals present in your work environment, it is important that you act according to your employer’s instructions and protect yourself as instructed by your employer. The effects of exposure on your health can take years to manifest and can even cause cancer or affect your fertility.

Chemical agents - Työnantajalle


Instructions for employer

All chemicals should ideally be purchased from a single supplier. This helps to prevent the purchase of equivalent products for the same purpose and makes it easier to catalogue chemicals efficiently.

It is the employer’s duty to provide the workplace with up-to-date material safety data sheets and, where necessary, descriptions of safe use (exposure scenarios) for identifying risks associated with chemicals. The employer also needs to make sure that the safety data sheets and descriptions of safe use cover the use of the chemicals present in the workplace.

The employer needs to identify whether hazardous chemicals are used and whether hazardous exposure agents are generated in the workplace. The employer should aim to replace the hazardous chemicals with less dangerous substances and prevent the generation of exposure agents.

It is the employer’s duty to update the risk assessments based on the information acquired.

It is also the employer’s duty to ensure that all containers of dangerous substances (such as reservoirs, storage tanks, pipes and cylinders) are labelled with the product’s name and hazardous properties.

The employer must ensure that all employees have been trained to handle chemicals in a safe manner.

Chemical agents - Muualla verkossa

Chemical agents - Sanasto


Substance A chemical element and its compounds in the natural state or obtained by any manufacturing process.
Exposure scenario The set of operational conditions and risk management measures that make it possible to control exposures of humans and the environment.
List of exposed employees An employer-specific list of employees exposed to carcinogenic agents and processes or mutagenic substances through their work.
Register of exposed workers (ASA Register) A nationwide register kept by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health of individuals exposed to carcinogenic agents and processes or mutagenic substances through their work.
ATEX ATmosphères EXplosives, i.e. explosive atmospheres
CLP Regulation EU Regulation on the classification, labeling and packaging of chemicals.
CMR substances Substances that are carcinogenic, mutagenic or reprotoxic.
DMEL Derived minimal effect level, i.e. a level of exposure below which the risk levels of cancer become tolerable.
DNEL (Derived no-effect level, i.e. the level of chemical exposure above which humans should not be exposed.)
Ex device A device or protective system for use in a potentially explosive area.
Ex zone A potentially explosive area.
Carcinogenic Capable of causing cancer.
Chemical agent Any chemical element or compound, on its own or admixed, as it occurs in the natural state or as produced, used or released, including release as waste, by any work activity, whether or not produced intentionally and whether or not placed on the market.
Chemical preparation A chemical mixture or solution consisting of two or more substances.
Chemical A substance or mixture derived from nature or manufactured by man (= synthetic chemical) in the form of a chemical element, a compound or a mixture.
Mutation A permanent change in genetic information.
Mutagenic Capable of changing genetic information.
PAHs Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
PBT/vPvB A persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic or a very persistent and very bioaccumulative substance; criteria for the identification of PBTs/vPvBs are included in Annex XIII of the REACH Regulation, which applies to all organic substances, including organometals.
Pesticide A plant protection product.
Reprotoxic Capable of interfering with normal reproduction.
Mixture A mixture or solution consisting of two or more substances.
Somatic Relating to the body.
SVHCs Substances of very high concern, including category-1 and category-2 CMRs, PBTs and other substance of concern, such as respiratory sensitisers and endocrine disruptors.
Teratogenicity An abnormality of physiological development.
VOC Volatile organic compound.