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 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.
- Illicit Drug Tool-Kit for First Responders. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, (2019).