- Safety and Health Topics
- Hazardous Drugs
OSHA has identified worker exposure to hazardous drugs 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.
Employer programs should attend to several critical elements, including the infrastructure program and management requirements outlined in the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention General Chapters 797 and 800; the Oncology Nursing Society guidelines and staff work assignments and management to reduce/ remove hazards to conception, pregnancy, and breastfeeding arising from exposures to hazardous drugs.
OSHA addresses hazardous drugs in specific OSHA standards for General Industry such as the Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals in Laboratories (29 CFR 1910.1450) and the (globally harmonized) Hazard Communication standard (29 CFR 1910.1200).
Provides references that may aid in recognizing and controlling hazards associated with hazardous drugs in the workplace.
Provides possible solutions associated with hazardous drugs.
Provides links and references to additional resources related to hazardous drugs.
- Update on Hazardous Drugs. OSHA, (August 1, 2016). A recent systematic review of existing programs and requirements.
- Hazardous Drugs Rule. Washington State Department of Labor & Industries. Adopted on January 3, 2012 and took effect in 3 stages January 1, 2015.
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). U.S. Pharmacopeia. Provides frequently asked questions to stakeholders and others who are seeking information regarding USP’s organizations, standards, standards-setting process, and other activities. Under "General Chapters," refer to <797> Pharmaceutical Compounding – Sterile Preparations and <800> Hazardous Drugs – Handling in Healthcare Settings.
- Work precautions for handling hazardous drugs highlighted by NIOSH, OSHA, Joint Commission. OSHA Trade News Release, (April 7, 2011).
- Healthcare Wide Hazards - Hazardous Chemicals. OSHA Hospital eTool. Provides hazards and solutions for employee exposure to hazardous chemicals, such as pesticides, disinfectants, and hazardous drugs in the workplace.
- Pharmacy. OSHA Hospital eTool. Reviews safety and health topics related to hazardous drugs including drug handling, administration, storage, and disposal.
Workers have the right to:
- Working conditions that do not pose a risk of serious harm.
- Receive information and training (in a language and vocabulary the worker understands) about workplace hazards, methods to prevent them, and the OSHA standards that apply to their workplace.
- Review records of work-related injuries and illnesses.
- File a complaint asking OSHA to inspect their workplace if they believe there is a serious hazard or that their employer is not following OSHA's rules. OSHA will keep all identities confidential.
- Exercise their rights under the law without retaliation, including reporting an injury or raising health and safety concerns with their employer or OSHA. If a worker has been retaliated against for using their rights, they must file a complaint with OSHA as soon as possible, but no later than 30 days.
For additional information, see OSHA's Workers page.
How to Contact OSHA
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to help ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov or call OSHA at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742), TTY 1-877-889-5627.