There are specific requirements under the COSHH Regulations concerning working with Carcinogens, Mutagens and Substances Toxic to Reproduction (STRs). The group is generally referred to as CMR. A summary is given below and further detail is contained within University Guidance .
Carcinogens are divided into three categories (as per the statutory requirements under the Classification, Labelling and Packaging (CLP) of Substances and Mixtures Regulations:
Categories 1a and 1b, if purchased from a supplier, will carry the Hazard Statements H350 (previously R45) - "may cause cancer" or H350i (previously R49) "may cause cancer by inhalation" and the "serious health hazard" symbol (see below). These are subject to specific control under COSHH.
Category 2, if purchased from a supplier, will carry the Hazard Statement H351 (previously R40) - "Suspected of causing cancer" and will carry the "health hazard" symbol. These are not included in the COSHH definition of a carcinogen but are subject to the general requirements of COSHH.
Mutagens are substances that cause heritable genetic changes (mutations). Most mutations are harmful and most mutagens are carcinogens and vice versa. Substances that are known to impair fertility or to cause developmental toxicity in humans are defined as Toxic to Reproduction. (STR). This definition covers a broader range of health effects than the earlier "teratogenic" which applied only to substances that adversely affected the developing foetus.
Mutagens and STRs are classified similarly to Carcinogens in Categories 1A, 1B and 2.
These substances, unlike carcinogens, are not specifically prescribed in COSHH. However, because of the nature of the hazard, workers should adopt the precautions and principles outlined in this section.
As with any other hazardous substance, a risk assessment must be carried out for the procedure involving the use of a CMR. The risk assessment must identify the means by which exposure can be prevented or if not reasonably practicably controlled.
Prevention of exposure can be achieved through substituting with a less harmful substance, modifying the process to avoid using the carcinogen, or avoiding the formation of carcinogenic by-products or intermediates. Where this is not reasonably practicable the University guidance must be followed in terms of the strategy for controlling exposure.
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