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Chemical safety

Karolinska Institutet conducts many chemically and environmentally hazardous activities. Chemical handling is surrounded by many laws, rules and regulations - both from Sweden and the EU - covering work environment as well as external environment issues.

The purpose of these regulations is to create a safe work environment, to protect the external environment and to ensure a sustainable development.

Therefore, Karolinska Institutet has to perform annual chemical inventories (in KLARA), carry out risk assessments for the management of chemicals and experiments and also follow rules for storage and disposal of chemicals and flammables. The manager is responsible for a safe handling of hazardous chemicals and that rules are followed.

Many chemicals require special permits to be handled. "Hazardous Chemicals" refers to chemicals that may cause a risk of illness and/or injury from:

  • Its toxicological properties
  • Its temperature
  • Its radioactivity
  • By displacement of atmospheric oxygen or
  • By increasing the risk of fire, explosion or other dangerous chemical reaction

KLARA chemical register

According to the law (AFS 2014:43 and SFS 1998:901) all organizations and companies must keep a register of chemical products and biotechnical organisms that may pose a risk to health and/or environment. At Karolinska Institutet, this registry shall be conducted in KLARA and kept up to date by an annual inventory at the beginning of each year. Read more about KLARA:

KLARA - Product database

KLARA - Chemical inventory

KLARA - Max storage

KLARA - Barcodes

Role description and delegation of tasks

Role descriptions and delegation of tasks to "chemicals representative" (kemikalieombud) and "chemicals inventory taker" (kemikalieinventerare) are now developed. The idea is to simplify for Karolinska Institutes departments to live up to European and national legal requirements, as well as national and local directives, in the field of chemical handling.

Read more about Role description and delegation of tasks.

Substances with special rules, prohibition or permit requirements

In AFS 2014:43 § 38-44 it is stated that the handling of CMR chemicals is subject to special rules and require specific rutines. For example, before work starts it is a requirement to carry out a documented investigation whether it is possible to replace a CMR substance to a less hazardous substance (investigation form is found under Documents).

Read more about Substances with special rules, prohibition or permit requirements

Classification, labeling and safety data sheet

To identify a chemical hazard - and to communicate the necessary information for a safe handling - chemicals are classified, provided with safety data sheets (SDS) and also labelled with hazard pictograms, signal words and hazard and precautionary statements (CLP) or symbols, indication of danger risk and safety phrases (according to KIFS 2005:7). Suppliers of certain chemicals shall provide the recipient with an SDS and it should be written in Swedish for products placed on the Swedish market.

Packaging and storage

Packaging (including re-closable) shall be adapted so that the product cannot leak out during the products whole lifetime and the packaging material shall not be affected by, or react with, it’s content. Hazardous chemicals should be stored so that damage is prevented and mitigated, and licensed products shall be stored so as to prevent unauthorized access.

For more information, see the Swedish Chemicals Agency website.

Flammable goods

Risk identification, risk management and protection measures

Before laboratory work with chemicals begins, evaluate whether there are any risks with the handling/method, and if protective measures and handling instructions are required. There must also be an emergency routine in place in case of spills or in case of an accident. Responsible for carrying out risk assessments is the closest manager, but risk assessment is preferably performed by the person who is to perform the method / management.

Responsible for carrying out risk assessments is the closest manager, but risk assessment is preferably performed by the person who is to perform the method / management.

If substances with unknown content are handled, the precautionary principle applies, ie the substance is to be regarded as dangerous for both human and environment.

Read more about Risk Identification, Risk Management and Safeguards.

Substitution and phase-out of chemicals

There is a national collaboration on phase-out chemicals by National Substitution Group, a network that started in 2006. The aim of the collaboration is to help one another to replace hazardous chemicals in health care and research, both in goods and in chemical products. National substitution group's work has resulted in a replacement list that gives suggestions for substitutions of different compounds, products and methods.

For more information, see the National Substitution Group website (Swedish).