You’ll be trained on the hazards of chemicals you work with. For your own benefit, follow safety guidelines such as working in well-ventilated areas and storing chemicals properly. And, when your training dictates, wear personal protective equipment and clothing. You should consult Safety Data Sheets (SDS) on the chemicals you will handle for the most detailed information available on safe usage.

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 its nature. But don’t stop there. Treat each chemical individually.


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


Corrosives are commonly found in the pharmacy and in laboratories. By their nature, 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 and may release dangerous vapors. Store and handle them properly to protect everyone’s safety.


Many health care chemicals are toxic (poisonous) if you inhale them, swallow them, or absorb them through your skin. If you have any questions about whether a chemical is toxic, check the SDS or warning label.