This video explains the need to be familiar with the type of chemicals you are handling and describes some sources of information about them, like workplace labels and safety data sheets.

It also offers advice and practical tips on eliminating or minimising exposure to hazardous chemicals in a range of settings and across different industry types – including the hair and beauty industry, the hazardous waste industry, and the fire emergency services industry.

Who is this presentation for?

The simple, clear guidance in this video will be useful for any businesses owner, manager or worker in any location where chemicals may be present.

Health and safety professionals and professional associations will find it a useful resource to assist them in providing guidance to clients.

Health and Safety Representatives will find good tips to assist them in assessing hazards and controls in their workplace.

About the presenter

Professor Dino Pisaniello is Professor of Public Health and the University of Adelaide.

Other speakers are Desa Fuller from the hair and beauty industry, Colin Lindsay from the South Australian  Metropolitan Fire Service and Mick Buttner from Veolia.

Useful resources


Working safely with chemicals

§ (Music Playing) §


Hello and welcome. I'd like your full attention while I briefly go through some safety concerns in this short workplace safety presentation. There are three key steps towards safety in the workplace – identifying the risk, assessing the risk, controlling the risk and reviewing its effectiveness. Put simply, the best way to prevent injuries or illness is to find potential hazards and fix them.

Please take the next few moments to consider the following key procedures. Wherever possible, eliminate the risk. Simply remove the hazard completely. Substitute the hazard. Substitute or replace the hazard with a piece of equipment or work practice that negates risk.


Isolate. Isolate the hazard or hazardous work practice. Engineering controls. Adapt tools or equipment to minimise the risk. Administrative controls. Change work practices or implement more training and of course make sure personal protective equipment is worn when required. Safety is an ongoing practice. Just because it's safe today doesn't mean it's safe tomorrow.

§ (Music Playing) § 

The hazards presented by chemicals can vary – high toxicity, flammability, continuous exposure or through unseen vapours or skin contact. Unseen vapours or chemical contact with skin can be harmful and need to be considered all the time. Relatively harmless chemicals are often overlooked and it can be the continuous exposure that becomes the hazard. Being familiar with the chemicals that you're working with is vital. Always read and understand the labels before use.

(Breathing through face mask) 

 Desa Fuller:

As part of the hair and beauty industry we are constantly exposed to a range of chemicals and employers and employees need to be aware of this exposure and need to deal with this on a regular basis to make sure that their exposure is reduced to a minimum. The accumulative effect of working with chemicals on a daily basis needs to be something that's brought to the attention of employers and employees. These products can cause extreme reactions in the workers such as asthma, extreme dermatitis, even cancer can be a result of working with these chemicals.

In the hair and beauty industry in South Australia we've developed a document to assist workers and employers to have a better understanding of the chemicals that they're working with and the conditions that they should provide to protect the safety of their staff.

 Prof Dino Pisaniello:

Chemicals can pose a range of health and safety problems in workplaces. Even chemicals which you think are fairly safe can be a problem if used in large amounts or for long periods of time or if mixed with other chemicals.



Sometimes it's the working environment itself that can be hazardous. When chemicals can't be readily identified they must be treated as hazardous. Chemicals plus heat is a particularly dangerous combination.

(Ambulance siren) 

§ (Music Playing) §

 Colin Lindsay:

Working in the Metropolitan Fire Service is a hazardous occupation. Fire fighters face many incidents which involve manufactured textiles and synthetics that these days can create hazards for fire fighters when involved in fire. The products of combustion can constitute a major health risk for fire fighters. Fire fighters returning from a fire can carry contaminants on their clothing and return them into their work environment back at the fire station.

In order to prevent this from happening the fire service has introduced a dirty to clean fire station concept and that way fire fighters returning from a fire can move from a designated dirty zone and decontaminate and move through to a clean area to ensure that no products of combustion that can cause a hazard to their health can move into that work environment.

Prof Dino Pisaniello:

In certain situations like firefighting we don't know what chemicals we're likely to encounter in these fires so we need a very rigorous system for managing chemical hazards. Things like the right personal protection and also the right clean-up procedures are important.


Pictograms are an easy to understand method of identifying most types of chemical hazards as our signal words, hazard statements and precautionary statements. In essence always check before taking action.

(Machinery buzzing) 

(Hazard tape being installed) 

 Mick Buttner:

In Veolia we handle lots of different chemicals ranging from the grease traps to the acids to the small hydrochloric acid which can burn straight through your bones and small chemicals which come from your labs, your universities. With the acids if something goes wrong with that you could be a major accident happen and someone could be burnt or even death.


Remember this means handling as well as storing chemicals. Fumes, vapours and spillages are as dangerous as contact.

 Mick Buttner:

My view on the workplace safety I think, my guys come to work, they're happy, they're healthy. During the day if they do their work, they stick by their risk assessment, JSEAs, do it the way they've been trained, they'll go home nice and happy and come back the next day all safe and sound.

 Prof Dino Pisaniello:

There are many aspects of chemical hazards in the workplace. You need to know what chemical you're using, what control measures are relevant for that particular chemical and process in order to prevent health and safety problems in the short and the long term.


Even if you consider the chemicals you're working with to be low risk please ensure you read any chemical Safety Data Sheets. It's a legal requirement to keep a Hazardous Chemical Register, Safety Data Sheets, labels, placarding, fire protection and equipment. All workplace hazardous chemicals need to be classified according to the globally harmonised system of classification and labelling of chemicals – GHS. Be aware and be safe.

§ (Music Playing) §

[End of Transcript] 

More Videos

Can't find what you're looking for?

Please let us know.

Share this page:

Facebook    LinkedIn    Twitter    Email