What Makes a Substance ‘Hazardous to Health?’

Posted on by Andrew Alty

In any type of workplace, whether it be in the health care sector, the catering industry, in an industrial environment or other, there is always a risk of being around or encountering a type of hazardous substance. Regarding how hazardous substances present themselves and can be found. The most common hazardous substance that can be encountered is often found in the form of chemicals or products that contain chemicals that can be harmful. This can extend into chemicals, vapours, mists, and dusts that may contain hazardous substances or emanate from a chemical. In this blog we will be covering what makes substances hazardous to health and the potential effects of coming into contact with such chemicals without proper safety measures in place.

There are a variety of workplace materials that can contain harmful materials which could possibly come into contact with a person’s eyes or skin. This can range from dust that may come flour or cement mix, fumes form soldering or some sort of motor vehicle engine or even the vapours and chemicals that might be found in paint or cleaning materials. Obviously, some of these materials are key to certain professions, and must be used. For example, a cleaner will most likely be required to use bleach which can be an extremely harmful solvent. The properties of such a chemical makes it an irritant and corrosive, therefore it is not safe for skin and especially not to be ingested as it can lead to serious health issues and even fatalities in some cases. To store chemicals safely to avoid any sort of different incidents with harmful chemicals, it is best to use the Hazardous Cupboards that are available on WorXmart to store them securely so that they cannot be accessed by people who are unaware as to what their properties are. This applies to specialised cleaning solutions and chemicals that could be found in a laboratory.

Many of these chemicals contain harmful chemicals that people who aren’t properly trained or are not aware of the properties of the chemicals will not know how to handle or use which could lead to being harmed in a variety of ways. There are other solutions to storing other harmful chemicals depending on what the nature of the chemical is, for example; Acid Storage Cabinets, Pesticide/Agrochemical Storage Cabinets, Highly Flammable Storage and General Storage Cabinets to keep a variety of different chemicals and so forth.

Substances such as gases can prove to be extremely harmful to a person depending on what the gas is and if the people nearby are aware of its properties. Certain gases are flammable and can become explosive when stored in a pressurised container. Others can be toxic when inhaled and therefore if people are working with a gas that is dangerous to inhale, PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is required. Therefore, handling containers containing gases that have inherently dangerous or harmful qualities, it is vital that the containers are being handled correctly, as damaging them could result in a form of combustion and resulting casualties or fatalities.

Using a device such as a Cylinder Trolley can help ensure that the gases being transported do not cause harm and lessens the hazard involved with toxic, flammable or explosive substances.

In some cases, inhaling a harmful substance such as fumes from a solvent or dust that rises from the original substance can be an extreme hazard. The reason that inhalants are considered such a high risk is due to the health problems that they can result in later in life. It can lead to respiratory issues such as asthma or even more serious issues such as lung cancer. These issues can be long term and could take years to develop so the problems will not present themselves to the individuals exposed immediately enough to consider possible solutions. To avoid encountering such issues, some of the best solutions are to wear PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and to have some form of ventilation when working with materials and substances that emanate dust or hazardous fumes.

Hazards can also be seen with substances that have spilt form their container which could not only result in slips, trips, and falls, but could also damage the area around it and be considered potentially toxic if it meets a person’s skin or eyes. With all these potential risks considered regarding spills and leaks, precautions must be taken to avoid possible hazards as the substance may be flammable, toxic, harmful, and even dangerous to the environment. Some of these precautions include having something such as Sump Flooring to catch leaks from things such as drum containers.

However, if a spill has occurred, actions need to be taken to clean it up and avoid the potential consequences. The problem with cleaning up a potentially hazardous substance is that if the proper equipment, or the equipment being used is not effective, it might result in damage being caused to the surrounding environment or the person conducting the clean-up coming into contact with the substance and suffering as the substance is toxic or corrosive.


The effective solution to cleaning up the spill is the Workshop Spill Kit, which is industrial strength kit specially designed to contain spillages and in turn protect those working in and around the environment of the spillage.

Plenty of substances can be considered harmful and hazardous in a variety of different ways, and depending on the type of substance, the substance can be seen in several different forms. Whether it be dusts, vapours, fumes, liquids, they can be toxic, corrosive, flammable, combustible and explosive and even harmful to the environment at large. Workers who are required to use such materials must be aware of the risks and how to minimise them which we have aimed to assist with in this blog post.

We hope you found this article both useful and informative. For more information on any storage and shelving products available on the WorXmart catalogue or to place an order, give our team a call on 0333 234 2344, or visit our website at

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