Chemicals are present in every workplace, from the cleaning chemicals being used to the industrial manufacturing processes, and welding fumes. Generally, a hazardous substance is one which may pose a risk to the health of anyone coming into contract with it in the workplace. The contract maybe in the production, hand line, storage, transport or disposal of the substance.
All chemical pose a risk to the health and safety of persons in the workplace to some extent and for this reason there are some basic requirements in the work health and safety legislation.
Hazardous substances have the potential to harm the health and safety of people at the workplace. Control of hazardous substance is of various ways due to the nature. (Hazardous Health Manuel, University of Uyo, 2000).
Many chemicals have both health and physiochemical hazards. Manufacturers and suppliers of chemicals are required to determine whether or not a substance is hazardous. They do this by referring to the global harmonized system (GHS) of classifying and labelling chemicals. If a chemical or chemical mixture is classified as hazardous it will have relevant hazard statements, precautions and pictograms on the label and safety data sheet (Goldman et al., 1988).
Some years ago the national health and safety commission (more recently known as the Australian safety and compensation commission – ASCC) estimated that about 2,300 workers die each year as a result of exposure to hazardous substances. Hazardous substances are found in almost all work places.
Hazardous substances should be eliminated from the workplace if possible. This will eliminate the risk. If it is not possible, then the preferred order of hazardous control must be followed, as prescribed in the various parts of chapter 4 (hazardous substances and materials) of the 2007 OHS regulation, and described in the plan.
Knowledge of the physical properties of a chemical can give an indication of the nature or extent of potential health effects given certain environmental conditions, and enables decisions to be made in respect of correct use and storage producers.