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You’ll be trained on the hazards of chemicals you work with. Follow all safety guidelines, such as working in well-ventilated areas and storing chemicals correctly. You may be required to wear personal protective equipment and clothing. Refer to Safety Data Sheets (SDS) on the chemicals you will handle. The SDS will have the most detailed information available on safe usage. Be sure the labels don't wash off over time. Then, you can still read them when you need them.

Types of chemicals

Chemicals may look alike, but each has unique qualities. Knowing the type of chemical you’re working with can tell you something about it. But don’t stop there. Treat each chemical individually.


Solvents, such as disinfectants, are used in many housekeeping and engineering jobs. That's because they easily dissolve other substances. But they also can damage skin and other sensitive tissue, like the eyes.


Corrosives are often found in the pharmacy and in laboratories. They can destroy or change what they touch. This means that they can easily “eat through” clothing or exposed skin.


Flammables are found throughout your facility. They catch fire easily. So, store them away from sparks and flames.

Reactives and explosives

Reactives explode easily. They may also release dangerous vapors. Store and handle them correctly to protect everyone’s safety.


Many healthcare chemicals are toxic (poisonous) if you inhale them, swallow them, or absorb them through your skin. If you aren't sure if a chemical is toxic, check the SDS or the warning label.

Online Medical Reviewer: Eric Perez MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 12/1/2022
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