San Francisco Environment Department

Employee Health

Workplace Exposure to Harmful Substances

Every year in the US, six million workers are injured or made ill on the job. Workers who do not have access to information about workplace chemical hazards are especially prone. Here are a few examples of workplace exposure to harmful substances: 

5% of the worker absenteeism in California is due to exposure to harmful substances or environments.
The EPA estimates that there are between 20,000–40,000 work-related pesticide poisonings every year

In the year 2010 in California, there were:

292 fatal cases of mesothelioma, a form of cancer often linked to occupational asbestos exposure.
1,716 workers cases of elevated blood lead levels. Lead poisoning among adults is primarily due to job exposures.


Programs and Policies to Protect Employee Health

The San Francisco Department of the Environment pays particular attention to industries that could potentially result in greater occupational health issues and could benefit from training and technical support. The following programs and policies help protect the health of employees and the environment and at the same time reduce liability, insurance, training and rehiring costs:

Custodial Green Cleaning
Garment Cleaners
Healthy Nail Salon Program
Safer Art Products and Practices
Safer Products and Practices in the Workplace
Integrated Pest Management
Safer Disposal of Hazardous Waste

Additional Resources

Chemical Hazard and Alternatives Toolbox - concise information about chemicals
OSHA Toolkit for Employers and Workers
UCSF's Work Matters Brochure (PDF)

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