Chemical Hazards and Toxic Substances

Chemicals and toxic substances expose employees to a wide range of health hazards and physical hazards.

Chemical Hazards and Toxic Substances

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What are the hazards associated with chemicals and toxic substances?

Failure of the employer to inform employees about the hazards of chemicals in the workplace can result in property damage, serious physical harm and death. Exposure to chemicals can cause irritation, sensitization, dermatitis, burns, and other serious health effects including cancer. Additionally, chemicals can cause physical hazards such as flammability, corrosion and explosibility.  

What can I do to protect myself?

Before using any chemical, information on the label and accompanying information (e.g., safety data sheets) should be consulted in order to identify any personal protective equipment necessary to prevent direct contact through inhalation, splash or spatter to eyes, nose or mouth, or skin contact.

What resources are available to assist employers?

Safety and Health Programs

These example programs, hazard communication program, respiratory protection, and PPE and hazard analysis can assist the employer with their hazard communication program and identifying the appropriate personal protective equipment required in the workplace. Other example safety and health programs are available for employers to download and adapt to their specific conditions. 

Training and Outreach Services

Presentations on hazard communication, respiratory protection, and personal protective equipment (general industry and construction) can assist employers in training their staff.  These presentations should be modified to address site-specific conditions and hazards. Other example presentations are available along with pre-recorded webinars which can be accessed at any time. 

In addition, the education, training and technical assistance bureau provides free online safety and health training and outreach services (i.e., speaker's bureau requests, safety booths) upon request.

Lastly, the NCDOL Library offers free safety and health videos (including streaming video services) and related research assistance on consensus standards (i.e., ANSI, NFPA, NEC).

Safety and Health Topics

More related information can be found on the safety and health topic pages for medical services and first aid, hazard communication, respiratory protection, eyewash stations and emergency showers, hierarchy of controls, ventilation and personal protective equipment can provide more resource information. 

Consultation Services

The consultative services bureau provides free and confidential onsite consultation regarding worksite safety and health hazards.

Which standards apply?

OSH has adopted the following standards for chemical hazards and toxic substances in North Carolina. This is not all inclusive.

Note: Please also check the standards information and activity webpage to see if there has been any recent or upcoming regulatory activity on this topic.

General Industry

Other applicable general industry standards that may apply:

Maritime, Shipyard Employment

Other applicable maritime standards that may apply:

Maritime, Marine Terminals


  • 29 CFR 1926.59 - hazard communication
  • 29 CFR 1926 Subpart D - occupational health and environmental controls
  • 29 CFR 1926 Subpart Z - toxic and hazardous substances

Other applicable construction standards that may apply:



Other Applicable Standards

The Which OSHA Standards Apply webpage can also help identify other standards that may be applicable to your worksite.

Where can I learn more?

Compliance Documents

Industry Guides

Technical Assistance

Inquiries about workplace safety and health requirements can be submitted to Ask OSH through the online form, by email to, or by phone at 919-707-7876.