Chapter 17.1 : Managing Hazardous Chemicals

Chapter 17.1: Managing Hazardous Chemicals


Managing chemical hazards is an important yet challenging role for the generalist OHS professional. This OHS Body of Knowledge chapter provides an overview for a suite of chapters examining hazardous chemical management, the other chapters being OHS BoK 17.2 Health Effects of Hazardous Chemicals, 17.3 Dust, Fumes and Fibres, and 17.4 Process Hazards (Chemical). This chapter introduces a systematic approach to managing chemicals in the workplace, starting with hazard identification entailing compilation of a chemical register, and examination of product information, including chemical labels and safety data sheets. Chemical risk assessment is discussed based on understanding the chemical labels and safety data sheets. Chemical risk assessment is discussed based on understanding the chemical hazard and the workplace potential for exposure, followed by a discussion of the hierarchy of hazard control approach to minimising exposure and risk mitigation. A brief discussion of product stewardship is followed by consideration of the implications for OHS practice, including comments on when generalist OHS professionals should seek advice from chemical safety specialists.

Keywords: hazardous chemical, hazardous substances, dangerous goods, globally harmonised system (GHS), OHS, Chemical risk assessment, chemical health effects.

First year of publication: 2012
Current Version: 2023

Chapter 17: Chemical Hazards

Table of contents

1 Introduction
1.1 Definitions
2 Historical Context
3 Legislation
4 Chemical hazard classification
5 Hazard identification
5.1 Chemical register
6 Risk assessment
6.1 Risk factors for reactive chemicals
6.2 Risk factors for chemicals with adverse health effects
7 Control of chemicals with adverse health effects
7.1 Priorities for control action
7.2 Evaluation of effectiveness of control
7.3 Mitigation of impacts of hazardous chemicals
7.4 Communication
8 Product Stewardship
9 Implications for OHS practice
10 Management of impacts of hazardous chemicals
11 Summary

Susanne Tepe PhD, MBA, MOS, FSIA
Associate Professor of OHS, RMIT University

Susanne is an OHS educator and researcher who combines a scientific approach with an understanding of management practice and systems thinking. Before becoming an academic, she worked as an OHS professional, specialising in toxicology and change management. Susanne was a member of the OHS Body of Knowledge Technical Panel.


Dino Pisaniello PhD, MPH, FAIOH, FRACI, FSIA, COH
Associate Professor in Occupational and Environmental Hygiene University of Adelaide

Dino is an OHS and public health educator and researcher with a special interest in chemical hazard assessment and management. He is a past president of the Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists, the Australian and New Zealand Association of OHS Educators and Chair of the Congress of the Occupational Safety and Health Association Presidents.


Terry Elms  COH (retired)
OHS Program Leader, RMIT University

Terry is a retired but active occupational hygienist who worked as an academic in general OHS education, with a particular interest in particle and dust sampling techniques and real-time instrumentation. Prior to academia, Terry was a principal analytical chemist with Telstra Research Labs, specialising in OHS monitoring sample analysis.

Learning Outcomes: Chemical Hazards

The OHS Body of Knowledge takes a conceptual approach which enables it to be applied in different contexts and frameworks. To optimise its value for education and professional development learning outcomes have been developed for each technical chapter in the Body of Knowledge.

The learning outcomes as described give an indication of what should be the capabilities of a new graduate OHS professional in the workplace. I t is up to those developing OHS education programs, OHS professionals planning their CPD or recruiters or employers selecting or developing people for the OHS function to consider the required breadth vs. depth


Download information about the learning outcomes

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3M Science of Safety Podcast: Episode 66 Workplace Health Monitoring
Discusses workplace health monitoring and why it is important.
Date: 2020
Presenter: Dr Julia Norris