Hazardous materials are substances that could harm human health or the environment if they are not handled the right way. Hazardous means dangerous.
Hazard communication is teaching people how to work with hazardous materials and waste. It is also called HazCom.
There are many different kinds of hazardous materials. Some of them are:
Hazardous materials can harm you if they:
Your hospital or workplace will have policies about how to deal with these materials. You will receive special training if your work with these materials.
Know where hazardous materials are used and stored. Some common areas are where:
Always treat any container that does not have a label like it is hazardous. Treat any spilled substance the same way.
If you do not know if something you use or find is harmful, never be afraid to ask if it is.
Look for signs before you enter a patient room, a lab or x-ray area, a storage closet, or an area you do not know well.
You may see warning labelson boxes, containers, bottles, or tanks. Lookfor words like:
A label called the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) will tell you if a material is hazardous. This label tells you:
If you find a spill, treat it like it is hazardous until you know what it is. This means:
Always treat any unlabeled container like it contains hazardous materials.
If you work with hazardous materials:
HazCom; Hazard communication; Material Safety Data Sheet; MSDS
Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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