Laws Governing Chemical Handling and Exposure Limits in India

Chemicals play a vital role in various industries, but their handling poses significant risks to human health and the environment. In India, several laws and regulations govern the safe handling of chemicals and set exposure limits to protect workers and the public. Understanding these regulations is crucial for ensuring safety and compliance within industries dealing with hazardous substances.

1. The Factories Act, 1948:

  • The Factories Act, 1948, is one of the primary legislations regulating the safety, health, and welfare of workers in factories.
  • It mandates the management of hazardous substances and requires employers to provide protective measures, such as ventilation, personal protective equipment (PPE), and training.
  • The Act also emphasizes the importance of maintaining exposure levels within prescribed limits and conducting regular risk assessments.

2. The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986:

  • The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, focuses on protecting and improving the environment and preventing hazards to human health caused by the handling of chemicals.
  • It empowers the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) to regulate and monitor the use, storage, and disposal of hazardous substances.
  • Under this Act, industries must obtain consent for the establishment and operation of facilities dealing with hazardous chemicals.

3. The Manufacture, Storage, and Import of Hazardous Chemicals Rules, 1989:

  • These rules aim to prevent accidents and minimize the risks associated with the manufacture, storage, and import of hazardous chemicals.
  • They classify chemicals based on their hazardous nature and prescribe safety measures for handling, storage, transportation, and disposal.
  • The rules also mandate the preparation and submission of safety data sheets (SDS) and emergency response plans for hazardous chemical installations.

4. The Occupational Safety, Health, and Working Conditions Code, 2020:

  • The Occupational Safety, Health, and Working Conditions Code, 2020, consolidates and amends laws relating to occupational safety and health.
  • It sets out provisions for monitoring and controlling occupational exposure to chemicals and other hazardous substances.
  • The Code emphasizes the establishment of exposure limits for various chemicals to safeguard workers’ health and well-being.

5. National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS):

  • The NAAQS set permissible limits for air pollutants, including chemicals, to protect public health and the environment.
  • These standards are established by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and provide guidelines for ambient air quality monitoring and management.
  • Industries must adhere to these standards and take measures to control emissions of hazardous air pollutants.

India has a comprehensive regulatory framework governing the handling of chemicals and exposure limits to ensure the safety of workers, the public, and the environment. Compliance with these laws is essential for mitigating risks associated with chemical handling and preventing adverse health effects. Moreover, continuous monitoring and enforcement are critical for maintaining high safety standards across industries.

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