Describe hazardous substances and materials that may be found in the work setting

This page is designed to answer the following questions:

Hazardous substances are any substances that can damage your health. They can be solids, liquids and gases and may have an immediate effect (acute) or cause long-term damage (chronic). They can cause harm via ingestion, inhalation, injection, being splashed in the eyes or by contact with the skin.

There are several types of hazardous substances that may be found in a health and social care setting.

These include:

  • Cleaning products e.g. bleach, oven cleaner, toilet cleaner etc.
  • Clinical waste e.g. used dressings, soiled pads etc.
  • Bodily fluids e.g. saliva, mucus etc.
  • Medication
  • Contaminated linen e.g. bedding, towels, clothes etc.

You should always read the label on any able chemicals you use in the workplace and follow the directions for use. In addition you must follow your employer’s agreed ways of working to ensure everybody’ safety. This is especially  relevant when handling clinical waste and contaminated linen to prevent the spread of infection.