Hazardous substances

26 August 2021

Some products or substances encountered at work such as dusts, fumes, asbestos or lead can potentially be hazardous to health.

Flammable warning on bottle of chemicals

Usually, this is where they can be inhaled; come into contact with eyes or skin; or mistakenly ingested. Sometimes, adverse effects are immediately noticeable but for others these may not be apparent for many years.

Some substances generated by animals and birds can also be harmful to health, such as large quantities of pigeon droppings.  Even discarded needles can harbour blood-borne diseases such as HIV or hepatitis, and can be a problem for some organisations.

You may need to:

  • complete, record and revise (where necessary) specific risk assessments to identify what precautions are needed
  • take action to eliminate hazardous substances altogether where this is possible
  • implement suitable precautions where exposure to hazardous substances cannot be eliminated
  • make sure that these precautions are taken and are properly maintained, with some needing to be examined and tested at specified intervals
  • provide information and training to any employees and volunteers on what they need to do
  • document your arrangements for preventing injury from hazardous substances, keeping certain records.

Read more about managing the risk from hazardous substances.