The eCHAP-Risk Tool

The eCHAP-Risk Tool

Setting Priorities: Testing a workplace tool to identify and prioritize workplace chemical hazards: A summary of the pilot study to evaluate a pen-and-paper tool to help rank the health effect of chemicals

Researchers at the School of Occupational and Public Health at Ryerson University and representatives from five national and provincial unions and three provincial health and safety associations (including OHCOW) formed a research team to collaborate on a pilot study to develop a tool that would help identify and prioritize chemicals in the workplace. They developed a tool specifically for Joint Health and Safety Committees (JHSC) of small and medium-sized organizations to help identify and prioritize the health effects of workplace chemicals using SDS information. The study received funding from the Ministry of Labour in Ontario, Canada.

Joint Health and Safety Committees (JHSC) from six small to medium-sized organizations were recruited to pilot the effectiveness of the newly-created CHAP (Chemical Hazard Assessment and Prioritization) tool. They ranked 10 chemicals used in their workplaces on their health effects. The 10 chemicals were chosen by the members of the JHSC based upon the frequency of use in their workplaces, and/or because JHSC members were concerned about them. The goal of the ranking was to help the JHSC prioritize chemicals for increased protection measures or finding substitutions using the occupational health and safety Hierarchy of Controls (at the source, along the path, and at the worker).

With the help of OWCOW and other partners, the project also developed and piloted a training course that was delivered to the JHSCs to help them use the CHAP tool. The training course built upon WHMIS 2015 (Government of Canada, 2015). It focused on increasing the JHSCs’ comfort and understanding on how to use the Safety Data Sheets that come with every chemical and the use of the CHAP tool.

The pilot study was framed as a modest and achievable first step to help workplaces take an inventory of their chemicals, learn how to understand the information included in the chemicals’ Safety Data Sheets on health effects, and learn how to rank chemicals based on the severity of those health effects.

RESULTS: The JHSCs thought the process of assessing and prioritizing their workplace chemicals was useful. It raised their awareness of chemicals, increased their understanding of SDS health warnings, and helped them prioritize their chemicals for control measures. The organizations provided some very specific suggestions on how the tool should be modified. However, superseding these detailed suggestions was a more significant one that the CHAP tool should be converted from paper-and-pencil to an electronic version with automatically-populating windows.

CONCLUSIONS: Small and medium-sized organizations found the tool useful, but an electronic version would be easier to use.

The team resolved to adopt this suggestion and have now developed an e-CHAP tool that can be accessed at: https://www.ryerson.ca/chemical-hazard-assessment-prioritization/

A new project was created to develop this electronic tool to also allow for the risk assessment of chemicals. This project has now been funded by WorkSafeBC, and was initiated in 2020. As of November 2020, with the help of all the research partners, the project is recruiting workplaces to help evaluate the e-CHAP-Risk tool.