Chemical & Biological Hazards Project

What is SHARP's HazChem Initiative?

The SHARP program at the Department of Labor & Industries is interested in identifying the most serious chemical and biological hazards in Washington workplaces and the workers who are exposed to them.

The HazChem Survey

Washington workplaces contain numerous chemical and biological hazards that have the potential to cause adverse health effects, like cancer, asthma, and skin problems. While Workers' Compensation data can be used to identify work-related injuries, these data are less useful for tracking chemical and biological exposures that cause adverse health problems. Therefore, SHARP developed a Survey of Chemical and Biological Hazards, which was distributed to labor groups, businesses, and safety & health professionals throughout Washington State.

Please see the complete report of the HazChem survey and results (512 KB PDF / 1 min). It is also listed on our Publications page as 69-2-2003 - Identifying Chemical and Biological Hazards in Washington State's Workplaces: A survey of labor groups, business associations, and health & safety professionals.

The principal hazards identified by survey respondents were:

  • silica.
  • paints.
  • isocyanates.
  • welding fumes.
  • carbon monoxide.
  • molds.
  • asphalt.
  • bodily fluids.
  • solvents.
  • asbestos.

Construction was the most frequently mentioned industry. Although the harmful effects of many of these hazards have been recognized for decades, there is a critical need for health & safety professionals to address these exposures, including the development of effective exposure controls that do not rely on workers' use of personal protective equipment.

Addressing workplace exposures

SHARP has produced information about reducing the risk of exposure to the following workplace hazards:

SHARP has also produced educational materials and other documents to address workplace chemical and biological hazards, including many of those identified in the survey:

Addressing workplace exposures
Number Title/Description
1-Bromopropane
SHARP Report 81‑4‑2009 New Hazard Alert for 1-Bromopropane (85 KB PDF). A one-page fact sheet for a chemical used in dry cleaning, vapor degreasing, spray adhesion, and other applications.
SHARP Report 81‑4‑2009 (Korean) New Korean version: Hazard Alert for 1-Bromopropane (802 KB PDF / 2 min). A one-page fact sheet for a chemical used in dry cleaning, vapor degreasing, spray adhesion, and other applications.
Asbestos in brake and clutch linings
SHARP report
69-1-2001
Working Safely with Asbestos in Brake and Clutch Linings (922 KB PDF / 3 min). This document is a tri-fold pamphlet and is best printed in color on 11 X 17 paper.
Benzene
L&I factsheet Information about Benzene
Carbon monoxide
SHARP report
81-1-2005
Carbon monoxide and forklifts: Warning poster for workers (334 KB PDF). This poster is best printed in color using paper size 11 x 17 but will also look good in black & white and paper size 8.5 x 11.
SHARP report
81-2-2005
Carbon monoxide and forklifts: Educational pamphlet for workers (296 KB PDF).
SHARP report
81-3-2005
Carbon monoxide and forklifts: Strategy guide for employers (1341 KB PDF / 4 min).
Food flavorings (diacetyl and lung disease)
SHARP report
64-7-2006
Letter to Employers Regarding Food Flavorings (36 KB PDF).
SHARP report
64-8-2006
Safety and Health Alert for Flavorings and Flavoring Ingredients (56 KB PDF).
SHARP Report
64-9-2006
Letter to Physicians Regarding Food Flavorings (21 KB PDF).
SHARP Report
64-10-2008
New Information for Restaurant Owners and Workers about Diacetyl (48 KB PDF).
SHARP Report
64-11-2008
New Cocina usted con aceitas de sabor artificial a mantequilla o sustitutos de mantequilla (55 KB PDF). Spanish version of "Information for Restaurant Owners and Workers about Diacetyl."
SHARP Report
64-12-2008
New 2008 Letter to Physicians Regarding Food Flavorings (42 KB PDF). SHARP's letter to encourage physician recognition and reporting of food flavoring lung disease.
Isocyanates and automotive paints
SHARP report
69-4-2005
Health and Safety in Washington State's Collision Repair Industry: A Needs Assessment (843 KB PDF/ 3 min).
Isocyanates and spray-on truck bed linings
WISHA
Hazard Alert
A Guide to Preventing Asthma and Death When Applying Spray-on Truck-bed Liners (94 KB PDF).
Nanotechnology
L&I factsheet Nanotechnology - An Emerging Industry.
Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers
L&I factsheet Workplace Exposure to Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs).
Thermal metal spraying
SHARP report
69-3-2005
How to Protect Workers While Thermal Metal Spraying (85 KB PDF).

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