Training on emerging risks in R&D and production of new and advanced materials and nanomaterials: providing systematic approaches to deal with uncertainties
In the last years, new advanced materials with different nanoscale dimensionalities (0-D nanoparticles, 1-D nanofibers and 2-D nanoplates) have shown a rapid development, and a growing number of workers is involved in their research, production and use. Such materials have unique physicochemical properties that make them suitable for application in various industrial sectors.
In parallel with the great innovation expressed by nanomaterials (NMs), scientific efforts are currently dedicated to understand their potential adverse effects on workers’ safety and health, which can be different from the corresponding bulk materials (e.g. traditional chemical risks).
Introducing innovative materials and technologies in advanced manufacturing processes, at the R&D and production level, requires the capacity to address uncertainties in terms of scientific knowledge and technical operations, and thus to prevent potential (novel) OSH risks (prevention-through-design approach).
- To review and compare EU risk management and communication approaches and training experiences in the field of occupational safety and health (OSH) in dealing with emerging risks in R&D and production of advanced materials and nanomaterials (NMs).
- To propose a PEROSH/EU relevant guidance document on harmonized training modules addressed to employers and workers involved in the sector.
- EU/PEROSH relevant guidance document on a common training module fitting needs: harmonized elements to develop training modules on risks of NMs, and more broadly new and emerging materials.
- Scientific papers proposal on the project and case study results.
- Consortium for future EU funding calls.
- We will conduct an analysis of European OSH organizations practices in the field of risk assessment, risk management, risk communication and training related to NMs, and more broadly new emerging materials.
- We will involve stakeholders from institutions, research organizations, companies and workers organizations in order to identify needs, drivers and barriers to develop effective and sustainable training tools dedicated to employers and workers.
- We will propose a case study on NMs identified in cooperation with the project members and collaborative partners in which specific training modules may be proposed.
- We will explore the impact that the use of innovative and new technological tools may produce on the development of reliable and cost-effective training programs.
- We will propose a guidance document fitting needs (likely focusing on specific sectors) and proposing a common training approach.
Systematic and integrated approaches based on state-of-the-art practices, working at the level of risk assessment (e.g. avoiding or reducing unknown risks), risk management (control measures), risk communication (safe use) and training are needed.
Training activities should be developed to provide research organizations and companies with tools and skills to identify and manage knowns and unknowns in R&D and production processes of new materials. The proposed training approaches will therefore address relevant enterprises and workers needs in this field.
Practical and societal relevance
Reports and addresses from ILO, WHO and EC, acknowledge the need to improve training on occupational safety and health (OSH) topics.
Currently, there are very limited initiatives on training new emerging materials and NMs, despite an increased number of guidelines on both risk assessment and management, and the inclusion of specific requirements for NMs in several EU regulations (the most recent is the update of the technical annexes of REACH with regards to NMs).
Therefore, the current situation suggests a need for the development of training programs, shared and recognized by OSH authorities, and tailored to the need of different research and industry actors dealing with nanomaterials, and more in general with new and emerging materials.
Lastly, the use of innovative and new technological tools (such as web platforms and technologies using multimedia supports as augmented reality and virtual reality tools) could produce reliable and cost-effective training programs addressed to the different figures (employers or workers). This aspect is likely under-estimated in existing training initiatives, and will be further explored in the project, also in the COVID-19 pandemic context in which the on-line learning initiatives should be implemented as a contribution to reduce the risk of infection.