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Barriers to the successful assessment of the risk from exposure to chemical hazards

There are certain barriers that hinders the successful assessment of the probable risk that are likely to occurred following the exposure to chemical hazards. Failure to identify some of the chemicals that are utilized within the organization is one of the barriers. There are several instances, when the chemical labels are worn out, and are no longer visible, or chemicals are stored in unlabeled containers making it difficult for the chemical to be accurately identified. This presents a challenge in hazard identification as well as assessment of the risks of the chemicals on the handlers.

Inadequate information on the safety data sheet also hinders the successful conduction of risk assessment. There are certain cases when the SDS lack information on the possible health hazards that the chemical may cause. As such, identifying the extent of risk that such a chemical may cause may be difficult. As much as an up dated SDS may be sought from the manufacturers, the process in most cases takes longer period than the risk assessment procedures making it impossible for the successful identification and rating of the risks posed by the chemicals.

Another barrier that presents a challenge in the assessment of hazardous chemicals’ risk to humans is the use of danger symbols or hazard pictograms that are difficult to comprehend. According to Jeong and Baik (2014) a number of hazardous chemicals that do not contain SDS have hazard symbols on their packaging. The symbols accompanies with various hazard statements are expected to give detailed information on the health hazard that the product is likely to cause. Nevertheless, proper understanding of the pictograms and the hazard phrases are needed for one to know the risks posed by each hazard. In most instances, the risk assessors and the employees lack the adequate knowledge for the accurate interpretation of both pictograms and phrases, presenting a challenge in comprehending the information conveyed. The need to first research on the meaning of the hazard pictorial and phrases delays the risk assessment process, thus hindering its successful outcome.

Assessment of the hazardous chemicals’ risk in any organization is vital in ensuring that control measures capable of addressing the risks are in place to avail a safe working environment to the employees. The key stages in the assessment process include identification of the probable hazardous chemicals within the organization through examination of the physical work environment, the materials and machineries utilized within the organization. Secondly, the extent of exposure is assessed to determine the likelihood and the duration that the workers are exposed to the chemicals. The risk assessment and characterization stages focuses on evaluating the probable damages that the hazards might cause to the exposed persons and the severity of every hazard identified on human health. Control strategies are then put in place to protect the workers from the hazardous effects of the chemicals. Inadequate information on the SDS of various hazardous chemicals, lack of labels on the packaging and the use of difficult hazardous phrases and pictograms presents a challenge in the successful assessment if risks arising from exposure to hazardous chemicals. Future studies should focus on addressing the barriers identified to guarantee the successful identification and control of probable risk arising from exposure to hazardous chemicals in any organization.