Dangerous substances and vulnerable groups


This article examines the reasons why certain groups of workers may be at greater risk of exposure to dangerous substances in the workplace. The article covers new workers, young workers, migrant workers and workers with certain medical conditions. The article gives information on the additional precautions that are necessary to ensure that adequate exposure control is achieved for these groups. Some information on relevant EU legislation is also included. There is also information on the additional risks associated with maintenance activity, reproductive risks and on the potential for secondary exposure of people outside the workplace, including a discussion on how this may be prevented.

Many substances used in the workplace have the potential to cause harm to workers, and to other individuals who may inadvertently exposed to such substances, and it is important to adequately control exposures. European legislation (Council directive 98/24/EC) [1] sets out the basic requirements to achieve adequate exposure control, and this is supported by national legislation in European Union (EU) member states.