Hazardous Drugs

Two syringes & two bottles of colored liquids with some pills and capsules on top of a bag labeled 'Chemotherapy Drug' Caption: Workers handling hazardous drugs need protection to prevent potentially harmful exposure.Potentially harmful exposure can occur when you handle or work around hazardous drugs. These drugs include antineoplastic cytotoxic medications, anesthetics, anti-viral drugs, hormones, and others.

Hazardous drugs can cause serious acute and chronic health effects such as skin rashes, fertility problems, genetic damage, birth defects, organ toxicity, and possibly leukemia and other cancers.

Exposure occurs during manufacturing and packaging, receiving, preparation and administration, and cleaning and disposal activities.

Clinical and non-clinical workers with potential exposure include the following:

  • Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians.
  • Nurses.
  • Physician assistants.
  • Physicians.
  • Nursing home, home health care, and assistive care staff.
  • Housekeeping and environmental services staff (custodial, laundry, and waste handling workers).
  • Shipping and receiving personnel.
  • Veterinarians and veterinary technicians and assistants.

Hazardous Drugs Program Guides: Developed by L&I to help employers develop a comprehensive Hazardous Drug Control Program (HDCP).

On February 10th, 2014, L&I received a petition for rulemaking (5 MB PDF) signed by the employer and employee co-chairs of the Hazardous Drug Advisory Committee.  After reviewing the petition, L&I agreed to initiate rulemaking (59 KB PDF) to address some of the specific items identified in the petition. L&I will proceed with rulemaking and is scheduling a number of stakeholder meetings over the summer to begin discussing updating the rule. 

Important dates

L&I's hazardous drugs rule was adopted on January 3, 2012. The rule was implemented in 3 stages beginning January 1, 2015. L&I issued a directive to agency enforcement staff that delays all enforcement dates by 1 year (this directive expired March 15, 2016). During the delay in enforcement, L&I will continue to cite hazards identified during compliance inspections or consultation visits under existing safety and health rules, such as Hazard Communication, Accident Prevention Program or PPE:

By This Date

Employers Must Have

January 1, 2015

Stage 1:  Developed and implemented a written hazardous drugs control program.

July 1, 2015

Stage 2:  Provided employee training.

January 1, 2016

Stage 3:  Installed appropriate ventilated cabinets.

Hazardous Drugs Advisory Committee

The Hazardous Drugs Advisory Committee is working to create sample programs, training materials, and other resources to help employers comply with rule requirements. See details about what this group is doing and when it meets.

Related Topics

More help from L&I

For general information, call 1-800-423-7233.

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