Workplace Safety Terms Glossary
Acute Toxicity: The negative effects of ingestion or skin contact with a single dose of a substance, or multiple doses over a period of twenty-four hours, or inhalation exposure of a period of four hours or more. All forms of acute toxicity are considered a health hazard by OSHA.
Aerosol: A solid or liquid particulate, such as paint spray, smoke, or chemical clouds which can remain suspended in air.
ANSI: The American National Standards Institute coordinates the various voluntary standards established by trade, technical, consumer, and professional groups.
Autoignition Temperature: The lowest temperature at which a substance ignites and sustains combustion in the absence of an ignition source.
Blood Agents: Chemicals that can enter the blood and deprive the body of oxygen.
BLS: The Bureau of Labor Statistics maintains databases on employee hazards and injuries as part of its larger mission to monitor national and international labor markets.
Boiling Point: The temperature needed for a liquid to become a gas.
Carcinogen: Any substance or combination of substances known to increase the risk of cancer.
Catalyst: Any chemical that changes the reaction between two chemicals without affecting the catalyst.
Ceiling: The concentration of a given chemical or substance that should not be exceeded for working exposure.
Chronic: A negative health effect with symptoms which either recur frequently or develop over time, usually due to long-term exposure.
Compliance: Meeting all requirements of the law for workplace safety.
CAS Number: An identification number used by the Chemical Abstracts Service of the American Chemical Society for chemical identification and information retrieval.
CFR: The Code of Federal Regulations is a collection of rules and regulations developed by government agencies. The CFR includes OSHA regulations (29 CFR), EPA regulations (40 R) and Department of Transportation regulations (49 CR).
CPC: Chemical Protective Clothing designed to protect against specific chemical actions. CPC items may resist chemical permeation, penetration, or degradation.
Corrosive: Any substance capable of destroying skin tissue.
Cutaneous Hazards: Any substance capable of causing rashes, irritation or defatting of the skin’s dermal layer.
Degradation: Damage caused to a piece of chemical protective clothing when exposed to chemicals. Includes softening, hardening, partial or full destruction of the item.
Hazard Category: A measurement of a substance’s hazard potential and severity.
Hazard Class: Describes the physical or health hazards associated with particulate substances.
Hazard not otherwise classified: Any substance posing a health hazard that does not meet the criteria for other hazard classes.
Hazard Statement: A description of the nature of a hazard assigned to its hazard class and category.
HMIS: The Hazardous Materials Identification System provides a comprehensive overview for working with hazardous materials, including labeling, safety training, and assessing hazard risks.
Ingestion: When chemicals enter the body orally. May have effects throughout the gastrointestinal system or enter the bloodstream.
Inhalation: Exposure to chemicals through the respiratory system. May have effects in the lungs or be absorbed into the bloodstream.
Inhibitor: Any chemical added to a substance to prevent an unwanted chemical reaction.
Irritant: Any chemical capable of causing reversible damage to the skin.
Job Hazard Analysis: The assessment of a job to determine potential hazards and improve safety by establishing safety protocols and appropriate protective equipment.
LC50: Lethal concentration 50 data provides an assessment of a substance’s danger as an inhaled substance, and refers to the airborne concentration of a toxin necessary to kill 50 percent of test animals under controlled testing.
LD50: Lethal dose 50 is a measurement of the amount of a toxin that causes the death of half of a test animal population upon controlled exposure. LD50 data may evaluate ingestion or skin contact.
Medical Surveillance: Used when working with chemicals where OSHA requires regular medical checks to ensure employees are working within acceptable limits.
Mutagen: Any substance capable of causing genetic mutations.
Nephrotoxins: Any substance capable of damaging the kidneys.
Neurotoxins: Substances which have toxic effects on the central nervous system.
PEL: The Permissible Exposure Limit measures the maximum air contamination workers can be exposed to that does not cause adverse effects.
Penetration: The ability of a substances to pass through openings in protective material.
Permeation: The passage of chemicals through protective clothing at a molecular level, increasing the risk of skin contact.
Pyrophoric: An adjective used to describe a liquid, gas, or solid likely to ignite either spontaneously or within five minutes exposure to air.
RTECS: The Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances provides data on the toxicity of over 50,000 chemical hazards.
Reactive: Used to describe substances capable of undergoing chemical changes under specific conditions, either in a pure form, during production, or during transportation.
Reproductive Toxins: Chemicals with negative effects on fertility, sexual function, or fetal development.
Right to Know: An term applied to a variety of laws designed to ensure employees, emergency personnel, and the larger community understand the workplace’s hazards.
STEL: Short Term Exposure Limits measure the amount of exposure to a chemical which cannot be exceeded in a single work day.
TLV: Threshold Limit Values are recommended exposure values designed for worker protection.