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Hazardous Drugs

Worker exposure to hazardous drugs has been identified by OSHA as a problem of increasing health concern. Preparation, administration, manufacturing, and disposal of hazardous medications may expose hundreds of thousands of workers, principally in healthcare facilities and the pharmaceutical industry, to potentially significant workplace levels of these chemicals. Antineoplastic cytotoxic medications, anesthetic agents, anti-viral agents, and others, have been identified as hazardous. These hazardous medications are capable of causing serious effects including cancer, organ toxicity, fertility problems, genetic damage, and birth defects.

Hazardous drugs are addressed in specific standards for the general industry.


This section highlights OSHA standards and standard interpretations (official letters of interpretation of the standards) and State standards related to hazardous drugs.


Note: Twenty-five states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have OSHA-approved State Plans and have adopted their own standards and enforcement policies. For the most part, these States adopt standards that are identical to Federal OSHA. However, some States have adopted different standards applicable to this topic or may have different enforcement policies.

General Industry (29 CFR 1910)

  • 1910.1020, Access to employee exposure and medical records. OSHA requires the reporting of employee exposure to hazardous medications, and allows access to these records by employees.

  • 1910.1200, Hazard communication. Includes the coverage of drugs and pharmaceuticals in the non-manufacturing sector. Requires any drugs posing a health hazard (with the exception of those in solid, final form for direct administration to the patient, i.e., tablets or pills) be included on lists of hazardous chemicals to which employees are exposed. In compliance with this standard all personnel involved in any aspect of the handling of covered hazardous medications must receive information and training to appraise them of the hazards in the work area. [related topic page]

Standard Interpretations


Note: These are NOT OSHA regulations. However, they do provide guidance from their originating organizations related to worker protection.

  • Hazardous Drugs Rule. Washington State Department of Labor & Industries. Adopted on January 3, 2012 and will take effect in stages beginning January 1, 2014.

Hazards and Solutions

The following references aid in recognizing and controlling hazards associated with hazardous drugs in the workplace.

Hazard Recognition

Possible Solutions

Additional Information

Related Safety and Health Topics Pages

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