6 Examples of Hazardous Substances in Workplace

Hazardous substance is a chemical that will expose the living being to certain danger in any form of contact. Despite some of the risks of being exposed to certain substances, the use of them is unavoidable in some workplaces just like some harmful chemicals banned in Europe but safe in United States. Certain workplace requires the worker to use or in contact with certain type of chemical.

Normally, company trains workers to be able to use the chemicals safely and to distinguish the harmful ones. However, the safe chemicals can also still in risk of exposing danger if it is not utilized properly. In certain case, workers also have to deal with strange substances. To know more about them, here are example of hazardous substances in workplace.

  1. Acids

The first example of hazardous substances in workplace:

General Hazard

Some of the risky chemicals are coming from acid class. Acid is highly irritable and and the acidity of it most likely has higher PH that can cause irritation to skin and eyes. A contact with acid substance can result in burning sensation, skin rashes, itchy and watery eyes, and leading to burn scar and sight problem.


In order to keep away from the danger of acids, there are two ways to do it. First, the company should label any chemicals that contain acid with the name and the hazard it exposes for the workers to be aware of it. Second, workers should use hand protection and eye mask if they have to be directly in contact with acid substance. This way, workers will not be exposed to the hazard of the substance.

  1. Cadmium

Next example of hazardous substances in workplace:

General Hazard

Cadmium is one of the chemical often used in a manufacturing industry. It has the symbol Cd with atomic number 48. Industry often uses cadmium as corrosion resistant coating in metal and steel product. The substance is also used as color additives. Cadmium can be dangerous as it is toxic. Long-term accumulation can cause pneumonitis, fever, pulmonary edema and for the worst case, death. (See also: Harmful Chemicals in the Environment).


Workers often exposed to cadmium through inhalation. The cadmium dust and fume are dangerous when they enter respiratory system. Therefore, to prevent exposure, workers should use mask to cover their nose. The factory should have open space with clear ventilation to change the air circulation. Company should put concern to put the workers’ safety as priority. When some signs of respiratory problems appear, contact doctor for further diagnose and treatment.

  1. Blood Borne Viruses (BBVs)

General Hazard

Blood born viruses or BBVs are another hazard for worker to be potentially catching some of the disease it carries on. The substance mainly found in blood or body fluid. Workers who work in blood donor or hospital can catch some of the diseases borne in the blood such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). If there is no proper protection, workers can catch the virus and getting sick themselves.


To protect workers and people involved the hygiene of each blood donor or organ as well as the worker should be emphasized. Workers should use the sanitizer sprayer before entering the room where the blood and fluid are placed. The equipment used also need to be hygiene and synthesized frequently as they can be the medium for virus transfer. Moreover, company should also give immunisation to the workers. 

  1. Asbestos

General Hazard

Asbestos is on the hot list of banned toxic chemicals. Study proves asbestos to be lethal to human health. Often used for building, asbestos is formerly safe until it later found out that the particle is deadly when inhaled. If someone frequently inhales asbestos particle, they can catch asbestosis, a respiratory problem caused by accumulation of asbestos tiny fibers. Morever, asbestos is listed as possible carcinogen as well.


Since asbestos dust is not something that cannot be clearly observed, it is best for the company to do asbestos assessment in the workplace. The workplace should be clear from any asbestos articles. After that, provides the worker with gas mask when they have to be in direct contact with asbestos. Make sure the workplace does not have leaked wall where the dust particle can extend to everywhere.

  1. Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is a chemical that is often used in the production of gas. Unlike carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide is lethal to people’s respiratory system. It can affect the hemoglobic system and lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. There are many cases where workers who work in enclosed space and in contact with carbon monoxide died from carbon monoxide poisoning. Therefore, it belongs to one of the most hazardous chemical and harmful chemicals in air pollution.


To protect workers for carbon monoxide poisoning is by giving an open space of workplace where the ventilation system works properly to avoid the substance to accumulate in the workplace and suffocate the workplace. Also, fresh air is really important to prevent poisoning. Moreover, company should also equip the workplace with health mask and carbon dioxide tube.  

  1. Ammonia

Ammonia is a common chemical used in household cleaning agents. The substance itself posses no big danger, however, when ammonia meets oxygen, ammonia gas created and the risk of poisoning increase. Ammonia gas poisoning can cause runny nose, irritated lung, red eyes, and shortness of breath, paralysis and death. The danger of ammonia gas is not something a company can brush off. (Related to Harmful Cleaning Chemicals).


To protect workers from the danger of ammonia gas, company should provide circulating fans in the workplace. The room should have better ventilation and every workers need to wear mask for protection. In addition, there is also an option to use non ammonia ingredient for the cleaning agent products.

The risk of working in an industry where substances or chemicals are unavoidable is high. Every day, hazardous substances threaten the life and impose  danger to workers with or without proper knowledge. It is a company job to ensure the safety of the workers. Moreover, workers should also be aware of the hazardous substances around them. These are all the example of hazardous substances in workplace.

Related articles: