Safer chemicals

How can a chemical be considered safe when it is classified as a hazardous substance?

The hazardous nature of a chemical relates to its inherent properties. For example, a chemical might be hazardous because in its concentrated form it is an irritant to eyes.

The risk of a chemical is dependent on both the hazardous nature of the chemical and how the chemical is used. For example, although a chemical might be an irritant to eyes, if the chemical is only to be used by workers who wear glasses or goggles to protect their eyes, or in an enclosed system where workers have no direct exposure, then the risk of the chemical is not unreasonable for this use.

Therefore, even though a chemical may be classified as a hazardous substance in accordance with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS), it can be considered safe to use if it is present at a concentration below levels that are likely to cause adverse health effects and/or where appropriate control measures are in place to either prevent or adequately minimise exposure to the chemical.

Last update 14 March 2019