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Healthcare Wide Hazards
Hazardous Chemicals

Hazardous Chemicals

Potential Hazards

Employee exposure to hazardous chemicals, such as pesticides, disinfectants, and hazardous drugs in the workplace.

Possible Solutions

OSHA requires that employers implement a written program that meets the requirements of the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) to provide for worker training, warning labels, and access to Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs).

The Hazard Communication Standard ensures employee awareness of the hazardous chemicals they are exposed to in the workplace.

  • Agents with any of the following characteristics are considered hazardous: carcinogens, corrosives, toxic or highly toxic, irritants, sensitizers, or target organ effectors. Hazard Communication Standard Appendix A and chemicals listed in 29 CFR 1910.1000 Table 2.

    • Use both human and animal data in this determination. The Hazard Communication Standard Appendix B lists sources of toxicity information.
  • There are exceptions to some of the requirements of the HCS for consumer products that are subjected to the labeling requirements of the terms as defined in the Consumer Product Safety Act and the Federal Hazardous Substances Act [29 CFR 1910.1200(b)(5)(v)].

  • Provide readily available Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) for all hazardous chemicals.

  • Train workers in potential chemical hazards and controls (engineering controls, work practices, PPE) necessary to prevent hazards in the work area [29 CFR 1910.1200(h)(3)].

  • Clearly label as hazardous all hazardous chemicals such as those found in some soaps, disinfectants, and pesticides [29 CFR 1910.1200(f)].

Provide appropriate PPE: (e.g., gloves, goggles, splash aprons) when handling hazardous dishwashing detergents and chemicals [29 CFR 1910.132]. For more information see Healthcare Wide Hazards - (Lack of) Personal Protective Equipment.

Medical Services and First Aid: Where the eyes or body of any person may be exposed to injurious corrosive materials, provide suitable facilities for quick drenching or flushing of the eyes and body within the work area for immediate emergency use [29 CFR 1910.151(c)].

An employer may choose to use a product that is not considered hazardous.

Books  For additional hazardous drugs information, see Pharmacy.

Additional Information:

  • Hazard Communication. OSHA Safety and Health Topics Page.

  • Small Business Handbook. OSHA Publication 2209, (2005). Helps small business employers meet the legal requirements imposed by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (the Act), and achieve an in-compliance status before an OSHA inspection.

  • 29 CFR 1910.1200. OSHA Hazard Communication Standard (HCS).
    • Appendix E, Guidelines for Employer Compliance with the Hazard Communication standard.

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