American workers use tens of thousands of chemicals every day, but only a small number are regulated in the workplace. As a result, workers suffer more than 190,000 illnesses and 50,000 deaths annually related to chemical exposures. Workplace chemical exposures have been linked to cancers, and other lung, kidney, skin, heart, stomach, brain, nerve and reproductive diseases.
The best way to protect workers from dangerous chemical exposures is to establish a chemical management system that strives to reduce or eliminate chemical hazards at the source through informed substitution. OSHA has developed a step-by-step toolkit to provide employers and workers with information, methods, tools and guidance on using informed substitution in the workplace. By using this toolkit, businesses can improve worker well-being through eliminating or reducing hazardous chemicals and achieve cost savings by reducing worker illnesses and improving efficiency and performance.
This toolkit can be used by all types of businesses, including chemical manufacturers, service-oriented businesses (such as janitorial companies, auto body repair shops, and pathology labs) and construction work sites where products containing chemicals that could present hazards to workers are often used.
OSHA’s goal is to help businesses thrive safely by asking them to look at their chemical use and adopt ways to reduce the use of hazardous chemicals.