HazCom: Anticancer Medicines (Chemotherapy)

Hands putting on surgical gloves.Anticancer medicines (also called chemotherapy) can save or prolong the lives of cancer patients. But they can pose a hazard to nurses and pharmacists who mix them or to housekeeping staff who clean up spills and remove waste. Follow the tips below, along with your employer’s safety standards, and you’ll help keep everyone safe.

Use PPE (personal protective equipment)

Wear PPE during preparation and administration of medicines.

Work safely

Mix medicines in a safety cabinet. For extra safety, use negative-pressure hypodermic needles to withdraw medicines.

Check labels

Clearly label medicines and equipment and replace any torn labels.

Transport safely

Hand-carry or transport materials in a leakproof container, such as a zipper-locked bag.

Dispose of waste

All medicine waste should be placed in sealed bags and discarded in properly labeled waste bins.

Clean up spills

Clean up spills immediately. Use a circular motion to wipe up spills, moving from outside in. Wear full protective clothing

Know the risk

Medicines that kill cancer cells can affect normal cells, too. Some of the side effects from exposure include birth defects and cancer.