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HomeHealthWhat are the Most Common Chemical Health Hazards Found in the Workplace

What are the Most Common Chemical Health Hazards Found in the Workplace


When we talk about chemicals, a common thought that provokes our mind is people working and dealing with them in laboratories. However, the use of chemicals or other hazardous products at home or in workplaces is quite common.

Although these substances have numerous benefits, but if misused or mishandled, they may have the potential to cause minor to major injuries or health hazards. When talking about working with these dangerous chemicals, employers need to pay special attention to prevent the safety of their workers working around them.

And so, this blog post will cover what hazardous chemicals are and how these common chemicals have the potential to cause severe workplace injuries.

What is a Chemical Hazard?

A chemical hazard occurs when workers are exposed to harmful chemicals/substances while performing their work activities. These dangerous chemical products can harm an individual’s health when ingested, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin.

Chemical exposure at work usually occurs while working with a wide range of substances, these may include:

  • Ammonia
  • Chlorine
  • Cleaning products/chemicals
  • Lead
  • Paint
  • Pesticides
  • Petroleum products
  • Disinfectants and more

Exposure to harmful substances, environment, or working conditions is the sixth-ranked cause of severe to fatal injuries. Nearly 424,360 injuries and illnesses were seen due to harmful chemical exposure in 2020 and 798 fatalities were seen in 2021, according to National Safety Council (NSC).

What are the Side Effects of Hazardous Substances Exposure?

Although there are numerous health effects when a person is exposed to chemicals, the level of severity and the ailments depend on the type of hazardous substances and the level of exposure.

Some common health effects may include:

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Acid burns
  • Skin rash
  • Nervous system disorder
  • Damage/diseases to the lungs, liver, or kidney
  • Birth defects

Common Examples of Chemical Health Hazards in the Workplace
Some common examples of chemical health hazards include:

  1. Ingestion of Poison

One of the biggest risks associated with the use of chemical substances or hazardous products is making sure everyone on the worksite is familiar with the chemicals they are working with. For this purpose, employers must refer their personnel to safety data sheets (SDSs). This will include vital information for handling, storing, and using harmful chemicals and substances.

Another way to prevent the ingestion of these poisonous substances is to correctly label the chemicals so that the worker working with them or the general public is familiar with them. Although labeling chemicals is not enough to minimize the risk, it is one of the steps to eliminate the risk of hazard or injury.

  1. Exposure to Toxic Fumes

Exposure to toxic fumes or chemicals is also one of the reasons for several injuries or ill health cases. Most horrified workplace accidents occur due to workers’ negligence of not wearing appropriate personal protective equipment or correctly using the PPE.

This may lead to harmful chemical ingestion along with other health hazards, causing short-term or life-long diseases to the workers or employees.

  1. Long-term Exposure to Chemicals 

With that being said, long-term chemical exposure is one the serious matters of concern employers and their personnel need to be aware of. There is no safe level of exposure to carcinogenic substances having the potential to cause chronic ailments.

It is not easy to identify the health effect of such chemicals and substances as they develop over time and have adverse effects on human health.

Therefore, it is advised that employers and managers review their worksites and working practices that may produce health issues and have preventive approaches to identify, control, and minimize the risk to health and safety.

Managing & Minimizing the Risk in the Workplace

Chemical health hazards are found in most workplaces and industries and may pose threats to people and businesses.

Although there is not one definite way to eradicate this risk from work, there are surely preventive approaches to control and minimize it. Adequate staff training is one of the effective ways that matter.

There are numerous health and safety courses that employers can provide their workforce. These include hazardous substances risk assessment, COSHH training, welding fume control training, hazardous dust training, PPE training, sharps training, and other relevant courses.

These training sessions help employers create a basic to advance level of awareness among their employers and workers to help them work safely while maintaining compliance.

Bottom Line 

Health and safety hazards are present in workplaces of types and sizes. Chemical health hazards are among the most common yet dangerous hazards to occur at work. The potentially dangerous health effects a chemical substance or material has on a human can be mild to severe, short-term or long-term, making its avoidance of utmost importance.

Therefore, it is important to identify and find the root cause of these hazards in the workplace and implement preventive approaches to mitigate the risk to an individual’s health. This content has covered a few of these.

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