Skin rashes, poisoning, lung disorders, and kidney and liver problems are some of effects suffered by people exposed to hazardous chemicals and substances. An estimated quarter of all Victorian workers use hazardous substances in their workplaces.
Hazardous substances may be in the form of powder, gas, liquid, dust or solid. They may be pure or diluted.
Common hazardous substances
Many agricultural, industrial and medical organisations use hazardous substances. The level of hazard usually depends on the concentration of the chemical.
Some hazardous substances commonly used in the workplace include:
Possible health effects
Health effects vary depending on the type of hazardous substance and the level of exposure – the duration and concentration. They also depend on whether the person inhaled, swallowed or splashed the substance onto their eyes or skin.
Some of the possible health effects can include:
Labels and Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)
The importers and manufacturers of hazardous substances are legally obliged to provide warning labels and Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) that gives safe handling practices for their products.
Employers must make the MSDS for every hazardous substance used in the workplace available to workers, and establish a central register of hazardous substances. Warning labels on products may feature cautionary words such as ‘poison’, ‘hazardous, or ‘corrosive’.
The MSDS lists important information for safely handling the product, including:
Suggestions for reducing exposure
If using hazardous substances in the workplace, you must maintain certain records, including:
What to do if exposed to a hazardous substance
See your doctor immediately for information, treatment and referral if you suspect you are exposed to any hazardous substance. Notify your employer and try not to handle the hazardous substance again. In an emergency, dial triple zero (000) for an ambulance.
Dangerous goods storage containment
Sitecraft has a wide range of storage containment options that includes: