Hazardous material information

What are hazardous substances?

Hazardous substances are substances, preparations and products with certain properties that are dangerous to humans and the environment. They can have chemical-physical, acutely toxic and chronically toxic effects and have a direct and lasting impact on health.

The basis for handling hazardous substances in companies is the Hazardous Substances Ordinance and the associated "Technical Rules on Hazardous Substances" (TRGS). The latter specify the requirements of the Hazardous Substances Ordinance. Important contents of the ordinance are:

  • Hazardous substance information (classification and labeling), risk assessment, minimization requirement, general and special protective measures (depending on the hazard potential).

This results in a number of obligations for companies, such as drawing up a hazardous substances register, instructing employees and preventing the release of hazardous substances.


What are hazardous substances and how do you recognize them? 

The definition of hazardous substances is derived from the combination of §§ 3a, para. 1 and 19, para. 2 of the Chemicals Act and § 4 of the Hazardous Substances Ordinance (GefStoffV). According to this, hazardous substances are:

  1. Hazardous substances and preparations that fulfill the criteria listed in Tab. 1.
  2. Substances, preparations and products that are explosive (with or without air supply).
  3. Substances, preparations and articles from which dangerous or explosive substances or preparations are produced or released during manufacture or use.

Tab.1: Hazard characteristics according to the Chemicals Act and the Hazardous Substances Ordinance

[Translate to english:] Gefahrgut Tabelle

The examples listed show that some substances fulfill several hazard criteria. For example, many solvents are both harmful to health and flammable or highly flammable. In general, the individual hazards are represented by certain pictograms and abbreviations and explained by so-called R-phrases (=risk phrases). However, the pictogram can also be missing and a characterization is made solely via these R-phrases. As a rule, such substance information is also assigned S-phrases, which provide safety advice for handling this substance.

The employer who handles a substance, preparation or article must determine whether it is a hazardous substance with regard to the intended handling. (§ 16 (1) of the Hazardous Substances Ordinance - duty to investigate) The duty to investigate covers all substances, preparations and products that are handled within the employer's area of responsibility. In addition to raw materials, goods and products manufactured in the company, operating materials for machines, auxiliary materials such as cleaning agents or waste materials/emissions produced must therefore also be considered; the criterion in each case is (regular) handling. The safety data sheet is decisive for the determination.
Source: www.bad-gmbh.de (excerpts)

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