Chapter 17: Chemical Hazards

Chapter 17: Chemical Hazards


Chemical hazards are a major occupational health and safety issue in Australian workplaces. Management of chemical hazards requires the combined efforts of Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) specialists, including generalist OHS professionals, occupational hygienists and occupational health practitioners. This chapter presents basic chemical hazard knowledge required by the generalist OHS professional. After brief consideration of the historical context of chemical reactivity and toxicity issues, the chapter addresses acute and chronic exposure, chemical hazard classification systems, and the identification, risk assessment and control of chemical hazards. Emphasis is placed on the importance of working with a range of OHS specialists to ensure a range of skills is directed at preventing fatality, injury, disease and ill health arising from this complex area of occupational health and safety.

Keywords: hazardous chemical, hazardous substance, dangerous goods, globally harmonised system, occupational hygiene, occupational exposure standard, monitoring

First year of publication: 2012
Current Version: 2012

Chapter 17: Chemical Hazards

Table of contents

1 Introduction
1.1 Definitions
2 Historical Context
2.1 Chemical safety (reactivity issues)
2.2 Chemical hygiene (toxicity issues)
2.3 Globally harmonised system of classification and labelling
3 Extent of the problem
4 Understanding chemical hazards and risks
4.1 Acute and chronic exposure
4.2 Chemical hazard classification systems
4.3 Identifying chemical hazards
4.4 Risk assessment
4.5 Risk communication
5 Legislation and standards
6 Control of chemical hazards
6.1 Priorities for control action
6.2 Evaluation of effectiveness of control
7 Implications for OHS practice
8 Summary
  Key thinkers/authors
  Key resources

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.

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.

Peer reviewer

Professor Chris Winder
Faculty of Business, Australian Catholic University

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

Download Learning Outcomes for this Chapter


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