OIC states must have training mechanism for chemical handlers, Experts urge


COMSTECH and ICCBS inaugurated 2-day international workshop on “Chemical Safety & Security in Academic and Industrial Laboratories”, at COMSTECH Auditorium in Islamabad.

Addressing the inaugural session, Prof. Dr. M. Iqbal Choudhary, a renowned chemical scientist, Coordinator General COMSTECH and Director, International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS), a world renowned institute in the field of chemical and biological sciences, said, chemicals have immense effects on human health and even impact on health of coming generations. He asked, when we buy chemicals from abroad, we are given safety instruction to handle them, but when we synthesize new chemicals, do we know the safety concerns? He stressed the need of knowing the kinds of hazards of chemicals we are exposed to in our labs and environment. He informed that there are many chemicals that have immense risk even if we are exposed to a very small quantity of them. Dr. Choudhary recommended that we must have proper training mechanism for people who work in labs and handle chemicals, develop capacity and infrastructure, spend more money to secure people exposed to chemicals, introduce regulatory framework, and develop a good system of chemical disposal.

Dr. Shahid Baig, Chairman, Pakistan Science Foundation (PSF), said that many chemicals have short and long term serious effects that can even take our life. He suggested we must have proper chemical handling training for lab workers, students, and chemical handlers. He informed that we do not have any chemical safety and security training course. He said academic and industrial labs would benefit from this workshop. Dr. Baig said that PSF and Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) commends the role of COMSTECH under the leadership of Prof. Dr. M. Iqbal Choudhary for the capacity building of Pakistan and the entire Muslim world in the field of science and technology. He informed that PSF, MoST and COMSTECH are working together on number of projects, and have many in pipeline. Dr. Baig said that MoST is looking forward to cooperate with COMSTECH to achieve its objectives of socio-economic development and capacity building of OIC member states.

Mr. Khalid Latif, corporate sector consultant with 33-year experience in multinational chemical industry, said we use chemical in large quantity in our daily life without following any safety measures. He informed that health and environment are somewhat neglected areas, academic labs are also lacking in practicing safety measures. He informed, safety and security is most important in chemical handling, and emphasized the need of proper safety training in chemical handling.

Dr. Abdul Rashid, Director Pharmacy Services, Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan, said that safety and security is an area of negligence. He suggested that researchers and students should equip themselves with the multidisciplinary knowledge to produce innovative results. He said chemicals are used for commercial purposes, they are useful but dangerous to health and environment. He suggested that government and industry should develop chemical safety standards and provide proper training to students, chemical handlers and lab workers.

In his introductory remarks, Dr. Zaheer of ICCBS informed that we have 200 local and 300 foreign online participants attending this workshop. He said we need to develop and introduce safety culture in our academic and industrial labs to mitigate the hazards posed by the chemicals.

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