Preventing Exposure to Harmful Substances
We are committed to reducing occupational health risks and improving working conditions by, for example, utilizing the Occupational Safety and Health Management System (OHSAS 18001) scheme, the harmful chemical substance risk assessment (new risk assessment system) established in fiscal 2015, through onsite inspections conducted by industrial physicians and health supervisors as well as by means of internal audits.
The reformed Industrial Safety and Health Act now requires reinforcement of risk assessments of chemical hazards and implementation of countermeasures. Our conventional risk assessment system was updated to create a new system, and since fiscal 2016, we have been conducting a risk assessment of working with harmful substances (inhalant chemicals) using the new system.
By fiscal 2018, a total of 9,415 cases of qualitative risk assessment had been completed. Of these, 3,140 cases were identified to have a high risk level and we continued systematic quantitative evaluations, such as exposure assessments of individual employees. To date, quantitative assessment for 1,190 cases have been completed. The total number of completed qualitative risk assessment cases by fiscal 2019 marked 12,660, and we have finished all qualitative risk assessments. Of these, 4,297 cases were identified to be of high risk and we have completed quantitative assessments on 2,145 cases. Those work procedures judged to be of high risk as a result of the quantitative assessment, have been subject to methodical reforms to reduce the risks involved. We plan to conduct qualitative assessments on new procedures in fiscal 2020 and also to follow up quantitative assessment of the remaining 2,152 cases of those 4,297 high risk cases.
We also built specific risk assessments for health problems newly caused by the absorption of chemical substances through the skin in fiscal 2018 in response to a rise in social concern about absorption of hazardous chemicals through the skin. Since fiscal 2019, we have been conducting risk assessments of chemical absorption through the skin and have completed the assessment of 3,352 cases out of 3,418 to date. We plan to complete this risk assessment in fiscal 2020, and at the same time we will install new facilities, revise working procedures, and select protectors with more appropriate shielding and durability to reduce risks.
Working environment improvement example (1) – Sampling of specific chemical substances
Sampling was carried out in a sampling box; however, there were exposure risks when opening the door of the box.
The sampling box was completely sealed and all the handling can now be done without the need to open the box. Exposure risks have therefore been significantly reduced.
Working environment improvement example (2) – Sampling of organic solvents
In one workplace, a chemical sample is taking out directly into a jar using an outlet pipe from a tank. This posed a risk of exposure to chemicals through skin contact and inhalation.
The opening of the outlet pipe for sampling was contained within a box. Also, a screw top sample jar attachable to the opening was introduced. This enabled purging, rinsing of the container with the chemical to be sampled, and sampling to be carried out in a sealed environment, significantly reducing the risk of skin contact and inhalation of the chemical.
Onsite Inspections Conducted by Industrial Physicians Aimed at Reducing Occupational Health Risks at Overseas Subsidiaries and Affiliates
In an effort to reduce occupational health risks at overseas affiliates, onsite inspections are undertaken on a systematic basis and steps taken to provide instructions regarding areas of occupational health improvement at the time head office industrial physicians make their rounds at overseas bases. This initiative was conducted at six overseas bases in fiscal 2019. Energies were also directed toward educating and training local responsible officers.