Key guidance for managing the potential risks of nanotechnology
Welcome to the guidance section of SAFENANO. Here you will find a background to this complex issue, and some basic pointers which may be followed when establishing a risk management protocol within your workplace.
The need for Guidance
Organisations involved in the manufacture, supply or use of any material have a duty to understand any risks that it may pose to the health of their workforce, customers and the environment, and to put in place such measures that are needed to manage these risks. This requires them to address any evident gaps in knowledge in order to gain a better understanding of the risks associated with their materials, whether to show compliance with regulation, pre-empt regulatory changes, and (particularly where no regulation exists) demonstrate responsibility.
Nanotechnology presents risk managers with new challenges, as the properties of nanomaterials now depend on parameters such as size and shape as well as the more conventional properties of chemical structure and composition. Currently there are many gaps relating to identifying, characterising, establishing the potential hazard, and evaluating potential occupational exposures for many types of nanomaterials in many kinds of application. These gaps in knowledge require to be addressed at a multidisciplinary level.
At the current time it is still uncertain as to whether all current regulatory frameworks are sufficient to ensure the safe development of nanotechnologies, and there exists a lack of guidance to support safe handling and best practice by those working within the field. To date, there is no single piece of guidance which can provide a definitive, step-by-step approach to the safe handling, best practice or risk assessment of nanomaterials in all circumstances. Nonetheless, while regulation is being reviewed and standards developed, it is important to assemble and make available to users useful knowledge on occupational safety and health practices in the context of nanotechnologies. As such, a number of general and specific guides for the safe handling and best practice for nanomaterials have been published.