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Working with carcinogens

When working with carcinogens the Danish Working Environment Authority’s ministerial order no. 908 of 27 September 2005 applies. Appendix 1 in the order is a list of these carcinogens. General regulations apply for the carcinogens on the list unless any specific regulations and/or additional comments are stated. The content percentage which is given in the list, determines the content percentage a material must contain to be included in the order. Still, the precautionary measures for working with the hazardous substances must always be respected.

General regulations are:

1)      Substitution must be made, if possible.

2)      Prepare workplace instructions which shows the substance is on the list of carcinogens.

3)      The work method must be organized so that influence is avoided as much as possible.

4)      Recirculation of extracted air must not happen.

5)      Technical installations must have an alarm. Abnormal operational conditions must be reported.

6)      Waste must be labeled with a yellow label reading: contains a substance which is included in the ministerial order regarding carcinogens.

7)      Suitable personal protective equipment must be used. Disposal of contaminated protective equipment must be in sealed containers labeled as specified in art. 6. Lab coats, which are being used during the work with these substances, must be kept separate from other lab coats, and it must be assessed whether or not they are posing a risk, before they are sent off to laundry. Contaminated lab coats must be regarded as waste. 

8)      Do not smoke, drink or eat in rooms where working with the substances is taking place.

9)      Perform an overall assessment of the risk at the workplace.

In some cases it might be necessary to apply for approval from the Danish Working Environment Authority. But most often §17 is mentioned for working in laboratories, and we comply with this when we use fume cupboards, protective equipment and comply with prescribed regulations. Substances § 29-32 listed under special regulations, must not be used until you have WEA’s approval. Substances § 27 must not be used. The Health and Safety at Work Group must always be involved when applying for approvals. The approvals are personal, they can be time limited, and they might require a registration in a user database. If the user estimates that there might be risks involved, it must be assessed at the occupational medical clinic.

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