HSE issues warning over hazardous fibres in catalytic converters

Since the late 1980s, catalytic converters have been installed on most passenger cars in the UK and Europe to reduce hazardous gases and vapours from car exhaust systems.

Although all catalytic converters contain precious metals and elements, numerous technologies are used to bring those elements into contact with exhaust gases.

One of these technologies is the use of Refractory Ceramic Fibres (RCF) – which are classified as a Category 1B carcinogen. If your business removes, processes, handles, and/or distributes catalytic converters, you must take steps to identify the type used, and take measures to protect your workers and the public.

Visually, it’s extremely difficult to identify which systems contain RCF and so it’s vital you undertake testing to verify this. It’s recommended that you use a UKAS Accredited laboratory to verify that catalytic converters don’t contain RCF.

If they do contain RCF, you need to make sure you register your business under the REACH regulations for the activities you undertake. For more information, including what substances to register and how, please see the HSE’s dedicated page.

You must also make sure that packages containing RCF catalytic converters are:

  • suitably packaged and marked
  • safely transported
  • sent with suitable and sufficient information to inform the transporters and the end users of their hazards

What do you need to do?

You must perform CoSHH assessments and put in place control measures, including health surveillance, if necessary, for all activities involving catalytic converters. For all types of catalytic converters:

  • ensure workers are aware of their dangers
  • make sure CoSHH assessments are in place for activities involving catalytic converters
  • Ensure that packages containing catalytic converters are suitably marked and safely transported and that the end user has suitable information concerning their hazards

How Citation can help

If you’ve got any questions about how this warning may affect your business, and your responsibilities as an employer, you can call our Health & Safety advice line, available 24/7, on 0345 844 4848.

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