Saint-Gobain is the world leader in sustainable construction, designing, producing and distributing materials and services for the housing and industrial markets. They are present in 75 countries with over 166,000 employees. Their Environment, Industrial Hygiene, Health and Safety (EHS) Charter is the foundation of their rules and means for identifying, reducing and controlling risks. The group’s EHS department ensures that this policy is monitored and implemented at every level of management and for all employees, so that everyone is responsible for their own health and safety and that of their colleagues.  To this end, they develop tools to anticipate and prevent the risk of occupational illness or disability. It was in this context that Geneviève Thiaucourt, currently in charge of occupational health management for the Saint-Gobain group, contacted Jacques de Gerlache to see if BelTox could offer general toxicology training for the management of the EHS department. The aim was to make it easier for them to access and understand the data needed to identify the intrinsic hazards and risks associated with the chemicals to which their employees may be exposed. They were especially interested in having an overview of the general mechanisms related to central and peripheral nervous system damage, hepato-renal damage and CMR effects.

An agreement was reached with BelTox to set up a 2-day course in French entitled « Notions Fondamentales en Toxicologie et Evaluation de Risque des Produits Chimiques » which took place on 8-9 November at their world headquarters in Paris.

The course was attended by the EHS staff of Saint Gobain (8 people). Jacques de Gerlache (Greenfacts) opened the meeting with a general introduction to toxicology. Afterwards, An Van Rompay (Penman Consulting) gave a presentation on local tolerance by video call from her office in Belgium. The EHS manager of Saint Gobain, Ludovic Pelletier, allowed to relax the timing of the course to permit the speakers to take their time to pass on the message followed by Q&A. This was much appreciated by the participants. Then, Julie Muller (ToxMinds) gave an overview of systemic toxicity testing followed by a presentation on mechanisms of toxicity (genotoxicity, carcinogenicity, reprotoxicity, developmental toxicity, neurotoxicity). After lunch, Mark Martens (MMTA) gave a presentation on pharmacokinetics and metabolism followed by the hazard characterisation of chemical substances. These subjects triggered a lot of questions and interesting discussions. This took almost the entire rest of the day. There was just some time left to explain the basic principles of the risk assessment of mixtures of chemicals. The second day was attended by Jacques de Gerlache and Julie Muller who continued the presentations on risk assessment and derivation of occupational exposure limits followed by the evaluation of health effects due to exposure to particulates, crystalline silica, isocyanides and formaldehyde. The feedback from Saint Gobain was positive and suggestions were made to repeat this course for a broader audience of the EHS community of Saint Gobain worldwide.