Companies can transport or use different kinds of chemicals in their operations. Under the Chemicals Act (599/2013), chemicals refer to substances and mixtures as they are defined in the REACH Regulation and the CLP Regulation of the European Union. Chemicals may be environmentally hazardous if they are not handled and stored properly. The environmental impact of chemicals depends on their properties, purpose and method of use. In order to reduce the risks to the environment, companies must be aware of the danger of chemicals, and that the handling, storage and transport of chemicals must be implemented appropriately.
Handling and storage of chemicals
Appropriate handling and storage of chemicals help ensure that even hazardous chemicals are safe. Any emissions and environmental hazards related to chemical use must be mapped. Operators must be aware of the effects of the chemical on the environment and human health, and take into account the amount and hazardousness of the chemical when due diligence and care is applied to the prevention of any harm to human health and the environment. Under the Chemicals Act, operators must, when
reasonably possible, make the choice between different chemicals or methods based on primarily which chemicals are the least hazardous.
The recipient and supplier of the chemicals must be aware of the characteristics of the different chemicals and any special procedures they require. During reception, you should make sure that the delivery corresponds to the order. The safety data sheet defines the chemical’s composition and features as well as handling instructions. Companies may not use chemicals that do not have safety data sheets and warning symbols or labels corresponding to these.
Chemicals must be stored and kept in appropriate facilities and storage loss must be minimised. Chemicals must only be stored in facilities designed for this purpose, and chemicals of different characteristics must be kept separate. Storage premises must be kept clean with special attention paid to the ventilation and temperature. Treatment of waste must be organised in accordance with the regulations of the Waste Act (646/2011) and the Government Decree on Waste (179/2012). Attention must also be paid to the waste management of chemicals packaging.
According to the Act on the Safe Handling and Storage of Dangerous Chemicals and Explosives (390/2005), large-scale industrial handling and storage of dangerous chemicals is subject to a licence issued by the Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency (Tukes). One must submit a notification of small-scale industrial processing and storage of dangerous chemicals to the rescue service authorities. Dangerous chemicals include chemicals which are explosive, flammable, corrosive, toxic, and hazardous to the environment.
Transportation of chemicals
Transportation of dangerous chemicals must comply with the Act on the Transport of Dangerous Goods (710/1994), which includes regulations on the requirements for vehicles used for transport, the safety of the packaging and containers of dangerous goods, and on the obligations of the consignors and carriers. The consignor is responsible for the appropriate classification, packaging and labelling of a dangerous chemical. The company must also ensure that the transport documents are completed appropriately and delivered to the carrier. The carrier must ensure that the vehicle used for the transport of dangerous chemicals is suitable for this purpose, and that the transport of the dangerous chemical in question is not prohibited. In addition, if the amounts of dangerous chemicals transported exceed the prescribed minimum amounts, road transport of dangerous chemicals requires the driver to possess an ADR driving certificate.
The company must be aware of the risks of transporting dangerous chemicals and have an action plan for emergencies. When a company subcontracts transport services, it may be demanded that the chosen transport provider must have an environmental management system in place and that environmental issues are taken into account in their operations.
Training of staff in handling chemicals
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (738/2002) and the Chemical Safety Act, it is the employer's responsibility to organise operations in a manner that does not cause harm to the employees or the environment. Employees must be trained in handling chemicals and instructions must be up-to-date. Additionally, it is advisable to appoint persons in charge of various tasks related to chemicals.
Occupational health and safety issues and fire risk issues are important to take into account when handling chemicals. Safety data sheets must be easily accessible to employees. Hazardous chemicals used in the workplace may also be accompanied by separate work instructions or chemical cards that clearly state the hazards and manners of exposure of the chemical, safety measures to be observed while handling the chemical as well as first aid and fire extinguishing instructions. Employees must know how to prevent chemical accident, and personnel must be trained in case of damage and accidents. Employees must be trained to use and maintain the necessary protective equipment (Source: Ecostart, an environmental guide for SMEs).
Risk management and disruption related to chemicals
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Act and Chemical Safety Act, the employer is responsible for the risk management and assessment of chemicals at the workplace. Operational disruptions may occur during the transport, storage, handling and disposal of chemicals.
Precautionary measures, training and instructing the personnel, appropriate use and maintenance of equipment and machinery as well as ensuring availability of any machines or equipment needed, helps when preparing in emergency risks and disruptions caused by chemicals. In the event of disruptions, rescue and prevention plans and instructions must be made and
any necessary exercises organised. The flow of information in a fault situation must also be ensured. Operators must eliminate harmful effects caused to human health and the environment by disruptions or strive to minimise any existing effects. According to environmental damage legislation, liability for any damage caused lies primarily with the party responsible for causing the environmental damage.
Management of environmental risks
ADR training licence
Occupational health and safety