Providing Practical Information on Chemical Hazards - Frequently Asked Questions
- How do you make sure the information you provide on chemical hazards is “practical”?
- Do you provide information on anything besides health effects?
- How do you communicate the practical information and who are the target audiences?
- Who calls the workplace hazard telephone helpline? What types of questions do you get?
- Are there any unique features of your fact sheets and other educational publications?
1. How do you make sure the information you provide on chemical hazards is “practical”?
We apply what we learn from workers, employers, and health care providers who ask us questions about the health hazards of chemicals. For example, we’ve learned that most people want to know if symptoms will warn them that a chemical is harming their health, whether the chemical can affect pregnancy or cause long-term effects like cancer, and whether tests are available to measure the health effects of a chemical.
2. Do you provide information on anything besides health effects?
Yes. We also provide information on how to eliminate or reduce exposures to toxic chemicals. We explain how exposure to the chemical occurs, and how exposures can be eliminated through the use of safe substitutes or reduced through the use of exhaust ventilation and other control measures. We also explain the Cal/OSHA regulations that help to protect workers from chemical hazards, and give resources that can provide additional information and help for workers and employers.
3. How do you communicate the practical information and who are the target audiences?
We develop educational publications such as fact sheets, booklets, and guidelines for health providers who treat patients with work-related conditions. We also respond to questions and concerns about chemicals and other workplace hazards through our statewide telephone helpline. Our information is targeted to California workers, employers, health care providers, government agencies, and others concerned about worker health and safety.
4. Who calls the workplace hazard telephone helpline? What types of questions do you get?
About 50% of our callers are workers. The remaining calls are distributed almost equally between employers, health care providers, and government agencies. Most of the calls are about chemicals—but we also get questions about mold, infectious diseases, and physical hazards, like noise. Most of the callers want information about the health hazards of chemicals. However, we also get many calls about the relationship of symptoms to work, and the effects of chemical exposures on pregnancy. The service is limited to California and to English-speaking callers.
5. Are there any unique features of your fact sheets and other educational publications?
Our emphasis is on chronic or long-term health effects. These effects of chemicals and other hazards don’t show up right away. Information on them is difficult to find and often hard to understand, and health care providers often don’t link the health effects to workplace exposures. In addition, our more recent publications on chemical hazards, like those on aerosol cleaner use in auto repair, formaldehyde, diesel engine exhaust, and 1-bromopropane include specific information on safer substitutes that will help to protect workers, communities, and the environment. Our aim is to avoid transferring hazards from workplaces to surrounding communities, and to help simplify compliance with occupational and environmental regulations for employers.
Providing Practical Information on Chemical Hazards main page
Hazard Evaluation System and Information Service (HESIS) home page