Hazardous Substances and Chemicals

Chemical manufacturer evaluating chemicals.
Chemical manufacturers and importers must evaluate chemicals.

OSHA has defined the term “substances” as chemical elements and their compounds in the natural state or obtained by any production process, including any additive necessary to preserve the stability of the product and any impurities deriving from the process used, but excluding any solvent which may be separated without affecting the stability of the substance or changing its composition.

For the purposes of the HCS, a hazardous chemical means any chemical which is classified as a physical hazard or a health hazard, a simple asphyxiant, combustible dust, pyrophoric gas, or hazard not otherwise classified.

Physical hazards – a chemical that is classified as posing one of the following hazardous effects:

  • explosives
  • flammables (gases, aerosols, liquids, or solids)
  • oxidizers (liquid, solid or gas)
  • self-reactive; pyrophoric (liquid or solid)
  • self-heating
  • organic peroxides
  • corrosive to metals
  • gas under pressure or in contact with water emits flammable gas

Health hazard – a chemical which is classified as posing one of the following hazardous effects:

  • acute toxicity (any route of exposure)
  • skin corrosion or irritation
  • serious eye damage or eye irritation
  • respiratory or skin sensitization
  • germ cell mutagenicity
  • carcinogenicity
  • reproductive toxicity
  • specific target organ toxicity (single or repeated exposure) or
  • aspiration hazard

The criteria for determining whether a chemical is classified as a health hazard are detailed in 1910.1200, Appendix A – Health Hazard Criteria.