Skip to main content

7.2 Understanding Chemical Hazards

Chemicals pose both health and physical hazards. For the purposes of this document, health hazard will be used interchangeably with chemical hazard and health effects on the body will be used interchangeably with chemical effects on the body.

According to OSHA, health hazard means “a chemical for which there is statistically significant evidence based on at least one study conducted in accordance with established scientific principles that acute or chronic health effects may occur in exposed employees. The term ‘health hazard’ includes chemicals which are carcinogens, toxic or highly toxic agents, reproductive toxins, irritants, corrosives, sensitizers, hepatotoxins, nephrotoxins, neurotoxins, agents which act on the hematopoietic system and agents which damage the lungs, skin, eyes, or mucous membranes.”

According to OSHA, physical hazard means “a chemical for which there is scientifically valid evidence that it is a combustible liquid, a compressed gas, explosive, flammable, an organic peroxide, an oxidizer, pyrophoric, unstable (reactive) or water-reactive.” Physical hazards are covered in other sections within this manual.