Health-care workers are potentially at risk from workplace exposure to chemical hazards such as hazardous drugs (including antineoplastic agents), gases (including anesthetic gases and helium from magnetic resonance imaging malfunction), cleaning products as well as radiation hazards.

The Ontario Nurses’ Association has dealt with a range of chemical exposures including leaking chemotherapy drugs from faulty equipment, fumes from bleach wipes, and nurses becoming ill from emissions from patients overcome by chemical fumes in their own workplaces. ONA has also assisted members with questions about X-ray protection. Employers have a responsibility to protect you from these hazards in your workplace.

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ONA Guidance and Resources

The selected information below will help you become more familiar with chemical and radiation hazards including how to prevent exposures.

Resources

Joint Health & Safety Committee Resources

Your safety committee/co-chair has the power to write recommendations to your employer and the employer has to respond in writing within 21 days. Tailor the templates below to help you get started.

Ministry of Labour

The Ministry of Labour can inspect workplaces or investigate complaints, injuries or accidents with a view to determining compliance with health and safety law. When inspectors find violations, they can lay charges and prosecute offenders or issue orders. Consult with your ONA bargaining unit leadership and Labour Relations Officer for help, but if danger is imminent, call your local Ministry of Labour office.

External Resources

ChemHAT – Chemical Hazards and Alternatives Toolbox

Public Services Health and Safety Association
Radiation Awareness for Health Care Workers

Ministry of Labour
Radiation Hazards and Protection

National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health
List of Antineoplastic and Other Hazardous Drugs in Healthcare Settings 2012