Chronic exposure to carcinogens, mutagens and reproductive toxicants (CMRs) in the workplace may considerably increase the risk of occupational diseases. In Taiwan, 465 occupational cancers have been diagnosed in the past three years. Approximately 260,000 workers are exposed to CMRs, and most of them worked in electroplating plants, high-tech factories (e.g., semiconductor-related factories), etc. Thus, the Taiwan Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Ministry of Labor (MoL) has made CMRs exposure precaution a key priority for occupational disease prevention in the following five years (2022-2027).
As a follow-up, the MoL issued a notification1 in December last year, announcing that inspections would be carried out since 2022 on enterprises and sites handling substances possessing CMR Category 1. The inspections will focus on 4 aspects, including:
Implementation of precaution measures, e.g., ventilation equipment with the function of discharging hazardous substances to prevent human bodies from direct absorption.
On-site inspection of the work safety supervisors, who supervise workers’ safe operation at the worksite;
Process management of hazardous substances; and
According to Mr. Zhang Guoming, the official form the MoL, there are about 2,000 enterprises involved in the handling of 254 designated CMR substances in Taiwan, of which 1,650 enterprises are of high hazards and high risks. The authority plans to carry out inspections on these 1,650 enterprises from 2022 to 2024. Employers, who fail to meet safe operation requirements or implement precaution measures, will face a fine ranging from NT$ 30,000 to NT$ 300,000 according to law. For the remaining 300 small enterprises, counselling visits will be arranged to assist in improving their operations.
In 2022, the MoL expects to inspect around 500～600 enterprises involved in handling CMRs. The authority appealed to enterprises to give priority to alternative substances to prevent CMRs from entering the workplace at the source, and to control the exposure risks through improving the process management and personal protection.