Assess the risks of hazardous chemicals

Once you have identified the hazardous chemicals in your workplace you should assess:

  • the risks that may arise from their storage, handling and use
  • the extent of the risk.

This will allow you to take appropriate risk control measures.

How to assess the risk of hazardous chemicals

The first step in assessing the risks of hazardous chemicals is to read the safety data sheet (SDS). The SDS provides information about the health hazards if it is breathed in, swallowed, or if there is contact with the skin or eyes. It also provides other hazard information such as whether it is flammable or toxic.

If a product does not have an SDS, and you suspect it is hazardous, you must request an SDS from your supplier.

To properly understand the risks involved with certain hazardous chemicals, you should consult all health and safety resources available to you, including Queensland's Work health, safety and workers' compensation services website.

Find out more about managing risks from hazardous chemicals in the Managing risks of hazardous chemicals in the workplace - Code of practice 2013 (PDF, 1.7MB).

Assess the extent of the risk and decide how to manage it

Once you have assessed what chemicals pose a safety risk in your workplace, you should:

  • consider how significant the risk of exposure is
  • check if anyone is being exposed to the hazardous chemical and might be
    • breathing in fumes or dust
    • swallowing them from contaminated hands or face
    • getting them on their skin or in their eyes
  • consider how exposure to hazardous chemicals should be controlled
  • consider the hazards for storage and handling, and how you might, for example, control ignition sources around flammable substances or ensure reactive chemicals do not interact
  • decide if exposure monitoring or health monitoring is needed.

Create a risk management plan

Record your assessment for the risks and develop a risk management plan. Include information on what decisions should be made about the risks, including how they can be avoided and what safety measures should be used. You will need to update this plan regularly and make sure any new chemicals are included.

Find out more about work health and safety risk management, and read the How to manage work health and safety risks - Code of practice 2011 (PDF, 1MB) for risk management information.

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