Working with chemicals

Using, storing and disposing of chemicals (also known as hazardous substances) can result in injury and illness if appropriate care is not taken. Chemicals may be solids, powders, liquids or gases, pure chemicals or mixtures.

Workers may be exposed to chemicals by:

  • breathing in (inhaling) vapours, fumes, dusts and mists
  • being absorbed into the body from direct contact with the skin, eyes, etc
  • swallowing (ingesting)
  • injecting into the body.

Chemicals account for about 2% of workers' compensation claims for young people but because illnesses and diseases from chemicals may take many years to develop this figure is an underestimate of the size of the problem.

Have a look at some of the resources in the Resource centre to find out more about the hazards and risks associated with working with chemicals.