Chemicals are essential for modern life, but can be a danger to workers. Some of these dangers are well known, others less so. Ideally, the exposure of workers to dangerous substances should be eliminated, but often chemicals have to be managed in the workplace, just like any workplace hazard, to reduce the risk to workers.
A chemical is defined by ILO Convention no. 170 (1990) on safety in the use of chemicals at work as “chemical elements and compounds, and their mixtures, whether natural or synthetic such as those obtained through production process“. Hazardous chemicals are classified according to the type and degree of their intrinsic health and physical hazards.
Use of chemicals at work is defined by the same Convention as any work activity which may expose a worker to a chemical, including during the production, handling, storage, transport, and disposal of chemicals.