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In Higher Education Institutions it is of utmost importance to carry out the proper management of chemical substances and hazardous materials since what is sought through such management is to prevent or mitigate risks to health and the environment, taking into account that the dispersion of chemical pollutants has no borders and their impacts can be not only local but global.
Chemicals have a wide range of potentially adverse effects from health risks such as poisoning and carcinogenicity, physical risks such as flammability and corrosion, to environmental risks, such as water, soil pollution and toxicity in the environment. aquatic life. Workers who are directly exposed to these substances have the right to work in a safe, healthy environment and to be duly informed, protected and trained on the use and management of chemical substances with which they are in contact.
The best way to achieve an adequate management is to make an inventory of the chemical substances that are in the different areas, check that they are properly labeled, classify them for incompatibility and have the safety data sheets to transmit information on the risks and risks. associated protection measures. Subsequently evaluate what they are used for and what exposures may result from their use, once the hazards have been identified, classified, communicated and the risk has been assessed, the last step is to use this information to design an appropriate prevention and protection program. for teaching and research centers.
The program must include prevention and control measures, such as substitution for less dangerous chemical substances; proper storage, the use of personal protective equipment when necessary, training of exposed workers, medical monitoring, procedures and practices on safety protocols during transportation and proper final disposal.
In the UANL, thousands of people daily (students, professors and employees carry out academic, research and / or maintenance activities in laboratories, workshops, printers, among others.) Therefore, training and training activities are carried out for all the personnel that are involved in the management of chemical substances and hazardous materials, aimed at protecting the health and physical integrity of people, as well as promoting sustainable practices for the care of the environment.
This also allows compliance with the regulations that currently regulate the handling and disposal of this type of substances at the national level, which is mentioned below:
As of October 2018, the Official Mexican Standard NOM-018-STPS-2015 entered into force. Harmonized system for the identification and communication of hazards and risks by hazardous chemicals in the workplace. The objective of this standard is to establish the requirements to provide in the work centers of the harmonized system of identification and communication of hazards and risks by dangerous chemical substances, in order to prevent damage to workers and personnel acting in case of emergency.
This globally harmonized system (EMS) originates from the United Nations Conference on Development and Environment (ONCED) held in Brazil in 1992 following an initiative of the International Labor Organization (ILO). In this meeting the criteria and objectives to be met for the development of a global system of harmonization of classification and labeling criteria along with the safety data sheet were adopted.
This system has been structured to cover all chemical substances, including pure substances and mixtures and to provide the requirements for the communication of chemical hazards in the workplace, in transport, for consumers and the environment. It has a list of classification criteria according to health, physical and environmental risks.
It applies to all chemical substances that we handle in university units, to consumers, transportation and emergency services; but does not include in consumer products, pharmaceuticals, food additives, cosmetics, pesticide residues in food and hazardous waste.
An additional program that is promoted in university units is the placement of pictograms. A pictogram is a representation of graphic composition that includes a symbol plus other graphic elements, such as a border, a background design or colors with the intention of transmitting specific information. (Rhombus supported by a vertex, with red border, white background and black symbol).
The system will use a new method of labeling through pictograms with a specific meaning, as shown below:
The elements of the globally harmonized system (GHS) can be summarized in the following diagram:
The advantages of using the globally harmonized system are to improve the coherent and simplified communication of the dangers of chemical products and the practices that must be followed to handle and use them safely and gain greater awareness of the hazards, which will contribute to using the products chemicals more safely in the workplace and at home.
The health effects of the chemical substances depend on the route of entry, if it is by respiratory, digestive or dermal route, on the time of exposure to them, on the number of exposures, on the physical state (solid, liquid or gas) and of the sensitivity or susceptibility of people to these substances, which in turn depends on other factors such as genetic characteristics, age or health status. Some of the health hazards that may arise when not taking into account preventive measures in the management of chemical substances are: skin, eye and respiratory tract irritation, mutagenicity, toxicity to target organs, cancer and even death.
For all the above it is important that in a Higher Education Institution such as UANL, where thousands of people (students, professors and employees carry out activities in laboratories, workshops, printing presses, maintenance areas, etc.) daily, take actions aimed at to protect the health and physical integrity of people, as well as promote sustainable practices for the care of the environment.
In addition, it is imperative that training and training be provided to all personnel involved in the handling of hazardous chemicals and materials, as well as maintaining the record or evidence of the training provided.