Many jobs involve using chemicals which can harm your health if they are not properly handled.

Under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 employers have to look for the risks to your health from chemicals in the workplace. Employers must make sure that your exposure to chemicals is either prevented, or properly controlled. To do this it may be necessary to monitor employee’s chemical exposure.

The main ways that chemicals can enter your body are:

  • by breathing them in;
  • by absorbing them through the skin; or
  • by swallowing them (ingestion). This can happen if your hands become contaminated at work and you do not wash them before eating, drinking or smoking
  • by Injection.

Biological monitoring can be used to indicate how much of a chemical has entered a person’s body. It involves measuring the chemical that a person has been exposed to at work (or what it breaks down into) in a sample of your breath, urine or blood. Which of these three samples is used depends on how a particular chemical that a person has been exposed to is processed by the body. Biological monitoring is often used together with environmental air monitoring.

Biological monitoring is especially useful when:

  • there is likely significant absorption through the skin; and
  • control of exposure depends on the use of personal protective equipment and an employer needs to check that it is providing suitable protection.

Examples of Biological Monitoring include:

  • Mercury Creatinine estimation for people in contact with mercury
  • Arsenic Creatinine ratio for people working with arsenic containing chemicals
  • Copper and Antimony levels for people working with these metals
  • Isocyanate levels for people working with these chemicals

Shea OH Ltd Biological monitoring includes:

  • Provision of advice on suitable Monitoring Techniques for the chemicals your employees are exposed to
  • Biological Sample Collection, i.e. Blood, urine, breath
  • Confidential data management and reporting, with employee consent
  • Worker education at time of test
  • Permanently retained records (40 years)