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Chemical hazards

Hazardous chemicals in the workplace are substances, mixtures and materials that can be classified according to their health and physicochemical risks and dangers.

Health hazards include skin irritants, carcinogens or respiratory sensitisers that have an adverse effect on a worker's health as a result of direct contact with or exposure to the chemical, usually through inhalation, skin contact or ingestion.

Physicochemical hazards generally result from a substance's physical and chemical properties, as is the case with flammable, corrosive, oxidising or explosive substances.

A person conducting a business or undertaking has a primary duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the health and safety of workers and other people are not put at risk from the business's use, handling or storage of hazardous chemicals.

The Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 implement a system of chemical hazard classification, labelling and safety data sheet requirements based on the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). Transition to the GHS will occur over a five-year period from 1 January 2012 until 31 December 2016.

Page last updated: 31 Mar 2016