The Working Environment Act includes limits for a number of substances, materials and work processes. Limits cannot be used in isolation, but are included in an overall assessment of health conditions.
People are often exposed to several substances at once, e.g. several types of vapour from solvents or welding smoke containing different substances, all of which are harmful. Here, it is not enough to observe the limits for each individual substance as the overall effect (combined effect) may be more powerful. For example, hard physical work combined with air contamination such as dust, smoke, vapour or oil mist cause a powerful effect. We breathe more vigorously when we work hard, so we inhale more of the contaminated air.
Therefore, the concentration of all pollution must generally be kept as far below the limit as possible. If you are in any doubt, use an authorised working environment advisor.
It is not enough to observe the limit if it is possible to use technical arrangements to further restrict the contamination. You must normally establish technical arrangements which correspond to good practice in the industry, or which correspond to processes in other industries. This is why it is rarely necessary to measure air concentrations of substances as the preventive arrangements are in place under all circumstances.
Use of measurements
Measurements are superfluous if you know that there is air contamination and where it is coming from. This can be found out by means of a thorough assessment of the following:
- Type and quantity of substances and materials used.
- Processes and work operations, including frequency and duration.
- Technical arrangements.
- Tidiness and order at the work site.
Experience from other corresponding enterprises and processes may assist with the assessment, even though measurements from one enterprise cannot be transferred directly to another enterprise.
If it is not possible to assess conditions according to the above principles, it is possible to undertake an exploratory survey. The purpose of this is to use simple means to assess whether the air quality is acceptable. Use direct display equipment for this type of survey. If you are in any doubt as to whether air contamination is harmful, contact an authorised working environment advisor.