Fact Sheet

Hazardous and Toxic Substances

Hazardous and toxic substances can be defined as those chemicals present in the workplace which are capable of causing harm. In this definition, the term chemicals includes dusts, mixtures, and common materials such as paints, fuels, and solvents. OSHA currently regulates exposure to approximately 400 substances. Some libraries maintain files of material safety data sheets (MSDS) for more than 100,000 substances.

Office settings will have cleaning solvents; toners for various electrical equipment, such as photocopiers and laser printers; and perhaps paints and paint thinners. Other workplace settings with have a variety of other substances affiliated with specific tasks.

Recognizing Hazardous and Toxic Substances

Each public entity needs to inventory what particular hazardous and toxic substances are used and stored. Many workers are unaware of chemicals that create potential hazards in their work environment, making them more vulnerable to exposure and injury. Click here to access references to aid in recognizing hazards associated with hazardous and toxic substances.

OSHA Standards

A list of OSHA standards that apply to hazardous and toxic substances can be found by clicking here.

Resources

Hazardous Communications Self-Inspection Checklist

OSHA Safety and Health Topics: Hazardous and Toxic Substances

OSHA Safety and Health Topics: Solvents