Employees required to work with hazardous chemicals are potentially exposed to conditions that may cause adverse health impacts. Many commonly used chemicals can produce acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term) toxic and irritating effects, skin and/or respiratory system sensitization and irritation, and other occupational illnesses if not properly controlled.

Workers are most commonly exposed to chemicals through the following exposure routes:

  • Inhalation of airborne vapors, mists, dusts, etc.
  • Absorption through skin contact or other mucous membranes (i.e. eyes)
  • Ingestion (i.e. eating/handling food or drink with contaminated hands or clothing)

It is the responsibility of every employer to ensure employee exposures to chemical hazards are maintained below local permissible exposure limits as defined by local law through the application of appropriate controls, such as engineering (e.g., ventilation, isolation), administrative controls (e.g., work practices) or personal protective equipment (PPE). View the sections below for more detailed information on:


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