to main content Workforce Safety and Well-Being: Chemical Hazards | The Joint Commission

Chemical Hazards

Many hazardous chemicals are present in healthcare settings. According to the CDC, chemical hazards include medications, solutions, gases, vapors, aerosols, and particulate matter that are potentially toxic or irritating to the body system. These chemicals are used to treat patients, fix tissue specimens as well as to clean, disinfect, and sterilize work surfaces, medical supplies, and instruments. There are seven types of hazardous chemicals: aerosolized medications, anesthetic gases, antineoplastic drugs, chemical sterilants, high level disinfectants, nitrous oxide, and surgical smoke. Latex products are also considered a chemical hazard.
,,About 8 million U.S. healthcare workers who prepare or administer hazardous drugs, or who work in areas where these drugs are used, may be exposed to toxic agents in the workplace.,,

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH)

Tips & Actionable Strategies

Consider these tips and explore the collection of curated resources, strategies and practices to learn about industrial hygiene, recognize and control occupational chemical hazards, signs and symptoms of exposure, and procedures for emergency treatment.

  • Keep compliance and risk assessments up to date with the latest information available.
  • Use appropriate protective clothing and equipment during activities where hazardous chemicals are generated, administered, and disposed.
  • Ensure staff do not take clothing and personal items home with them if they contain chemical contaminants.
  • Provide staff training on chemical hazards and safe handling precautions at hire and annually thereafter.
  • Ensure that standard operating procedures are readily available to staff.
  • Provide medical surveillance for employees exposed to hazardous chemicals.
Sources: CDC, NIOSH