Berufsgenossenschaften: hazardous substance information at a glance


With immediate effect, the BG Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BGIA) is providing free access to seven BG hazardous substance databases. The databases are accessible on the Internet. The GESTIS hazardous substances information system supports companies in identifying health hazards presented by hazardous substances at the workplace, and in taking protective measures. Experts and researchers may also draw on the data pool, however: the information ranges from first-aid measures in response to symptoms of poisoning, through analysis methods for chemicals, to the scientific sources upon which workplace limit values are based.

Some 30,000 chemical substances are distributed commercially throughout Europe. Approximately 1,500 of them are particularly hazardous, e.g. carcinogenic. Chemicals can be found in all areas of life. Contact with them is however particularly intensive in the vocational context: at workplaces at which hazardous substances are manufactured or processed, and during activities in which hazardous substances are produced during the work process. According to a survey conducted by the European Union, 14% of employees in Germany, i.e. some five million people, come into contact with hazardous substances at work. The actual figure may be assumed to be substantially higher. Companies therefore have a huge need of information on the potential hazards and on safe measures for dealing with hazardous substances.

"With GESTIS, our hazardous substances information system, we aim to provide answers to a wide range of questions concerning hazardous substances," is how Dr. Roger Stamm, head of the division concerned at the BGIA, explains the scope of the database service: "Operators of small businesses will find here the information they need on safe storage and disposal of a given substance. Researchers seeking details of the classification of a hazardous substance can also obtain information here, as can OH&S professionals interested in international limit values for chemical substances."

The web-based service encompasses seven freely accessible hazardous substance databases:

  • The GESTIS hazardous substance database, containing comprehensive information on hazardous substances
  • ICSC, an international database containing basic data on health hazards and health protection in a clearly presented form
  • ISI, the information system on safety data sheets from over 200 manufacturers (in German)
  • A database of analysis methods
  • A database of international limit values for chemicals
  • A further database (in German) containing the scientific basis for limit values and classifications
  • GESTIS-StaubEx (in German), which contains flammability and explosion parameters for dusts

In addition, links are provided to information systems maintained by individual BGs, and further information on the subject of hazardous substances.

Further information

Databases on hazardous substances