Chemicals are used widely throughout the world, including Malaysia, as they could improve our daily lives and provide us with a lot of benefits. Although they offer improvements to our daily lives, some chemicals do pose certain threats to the safety and health of humans as well as the environment. These threats could cause acute or chronic effects which the cure might be next to impossible.
A few examples of chemicals that are claimed to be hazardous to health through research are asbestos, benzene and formaldehyde. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the EPA, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) have all classified asbestos as a known cancer causing chemical to humans. Asbestos is used in Malaysia as construction material and vehicle components. This increases the potential of risking a substantial number of industrial workers to diseases such as lung cancer and asbestosis. Benzene, used to produce polymers and plastics, is also another chemical that is classified as carcinogenic by the aforementioned agencies. Another chemical recently classified as carcinogen by IARC is formaldehyde, a chemical widely used as adhesives in Malaysia. The number of workers involved in the manufacturing and handling of these types of chemicals is substantial and therefore their welfare need to be taken care of.
This is where we, Department of Occupational Safety and Health, come into the picture of protecting workers as well as the public indirectly. Any occupational safety and health issues associated with chemicals can be minimised greatly through proper management and usage of chemicals. On top of that, Chemical Management Division which acts as think tank to the Department to oversee latest issues and incorporate new innovative ideas into existing legal instrument to ensure holistic approach and sound management of chemicals at workplace are practiced. Furthermore, State offices related legislations and issuing guidelines to ensure safe use of chemicals at workplaces.