Exposure to chemicals is 100% preventable. Without the proper controls chemical exposure can cause cancer, respiratory illnesses, skin and eye irritations, as well as fire and explosion-related injuries.
Priority hazardous chemicals
Reducing exposure to hazardous chemicals at work is essential to creating a healthy, safe and productive workplace and a key focus area in the Work Health and Safety Roadmap 2022. There are thousands of hazardous chemicals used in the workplace, from paints to pesticides, cleaners and fuels. They come in various forms – powders, solids, liquids and gases. The Hazardous chemicals and materials exposures baseline reduction strategy identifies the 10 priority hazardous chemicals we aim to reduce.
Select a hazardous chemical below to learn how to protect yourself:
There are specific laws about working safely with hazardous chemicals. Here we summarise those laws and give you some practical tips:
We also have information on exposure to chemicals in nail salons.
Globally harmonised system (GHS)
Key information on hazardous chemicals
Airborne contaminantsAir should not contain chemical agents at concentrations that affect health, safety or well being.
Chemicals and the GHSA new system of chemical classification and hazard communication is coming into effect.
Explosives & fireworksOur laws, licensing, and notifications system works together to regulate explosives, certain security sensitive dangerous substances and fireworks.
Farm chemicalsMany pesticides used in the agricultural sector contain hazardous chemicals that can have short and long-term health effects if not managed safely.
Flammable substancesFlammable and combustible substances must be kept in the lowest practical quantity at the workplace.
Glyphosates and organophosphatesChemicals containing glyphosate (commonly known as Roundup) and some other common pesticides have been assessed as being potentially carcinogenic to humans.
Hazardous atmospheresAtmospheres affected by hazards such as insufficient oxygen, flammable gases and combustible dusts can pose an immediate threat to life or can interfere with the ability to escape unaided.
Lead workLead can harm your health and can be inhaled through dust, fumes or mist. It can also be swallowed.
PFAS firefighting foamsInformation to current and ex-workers on the potential health concerns regarding the use, handling and storage of PFAS containing aqueous film forming foams (AFFF) and their contaminants.