PDF – Biological Monitoring Guidelines
These guidelines are primarily aimed at employers who are managing a workplace biological monitoring programme. It also aims to explain the process of biological monitoring to employees.
Many tasks involve using chemicals which can be harmful to health if they are not properly controlled.
The employer must ensure that exposure to chemicals is either prevented, or properly controlled.
To do this he or she may need to measure the amount of chemical a person is exposed to.
The most common method of determining exposure to chemicals is to measure how much of the chemical is present in the workplace air, in particular, in the employee’s breathing zone.
However, where there is a particular risk of skin absorption or ingestion of a chemical, biological monitoring for certain chemicals can provide a more precise estimation of exposure.
Biological monitoring in the workplace is an element of health surveillance which can be used in the assessment of the risks to health as an integral part of an occupational health and safety programme.
Health surveillance is not a substitute for control measures.
Biological monitoring involves analysis of breath, urine or blood samples collected from employees.
There are sensitive ethical issues involved in the collection, analysis and reporting of results from such samples.
Occupational physicians play a crucial role in handling such sensitive issues and an occupational physician should be consulted in setting up a biological monitoring programme, particularly in establishing procedures for reporting results.
They should also be available to offer medical interpretation of results.
These guidelines are not intended to be a legal interpretation of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Chemical Agent) Regulations, 2001 (S.I. No. 619 of 2001) or the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005 (S.I. No 10 of 2005) but are issued to support employers to meet their obligation under the above legislation.