Skip to main content

Worker Safety and Chemical Disinfectants

disinfectant spray and worker safety
Using Disinfect Spray in Iran

With the widespread concern over the coronavirus, more people are talking about and using chemical disinfection. 

From a worker safety perspective here are some basic things to know about disinfection.
Disinfectants are intended to kill microorganisms. They may also be hazardous to humans and the environment, especially when concentrated.

The use of disinfectants can impact worker safety both directly and indirectly. Direct exposure to a hazardous chemical may result when a disinfectant is used inappropriately (for example, if a worker fails to wear personal protective equipment when diluting a concentrated chemical).

Indirect impact on worker safety can occur as a result of an exposure to viable pathogens when an inappropriate product is selected (for example, if a disinfectant or product that kills vegetative bacteria only was used against a non-enveloped virus), or if an effective product is used inappropriately (for example, diluted too much).

Workers should learn about the products required for disinfection of the agents with which they will be working, including recommended directions for use (including application method, contact time, personal protective equipment, precautions, first aid, and disposal) as well as chemical characteristics (such as the toxicity, chemical compatibility, storage stability, active ingredient identity and concentration).

Much of this information is provided on the product label. Some manufacturers may also be willing to share reports of efficacy testing for their products.



Given that product effectiveness depends on the active ingredient(s) as well as the identity and concentration of other ingredients in the formulation, it is difficult to make generalisations about contact times and concentrations needed to kill specific pathogens. Users should therefore choose a registered product, read the label before using, and follow the directions for use carefully.

Manufacturers are permitted to test their own products to demonstrate label claims. Therefore, it is prudent to consider whether manufacturers’ claims are consistent with the recognised characteristics of the active ingredient and with current research published in peer-reviewed scientific journals such as the Journal of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.

When selecting a disinfectant, check the label for a Drug Identification Number (DIN XXXXXXXX). Drug Identification Number (DIN): A DIN is a computer-generated eight-digit number assigned by Health Canada to a drug product which has been granted market authorization in accordance with the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations. The DIN uniquely identifies the product and must appear on the marketed product label for all drugs authorized for sale in Canada.

Users of disinfectants should be aware of potential incompatibilities with other chemicals. For example, chlorine-releasing compounds should never be mixed with other chemicals because doing so may cause the production of toxic chlorine gas.

In a future post we will:

  • look at the definition of words commonly used when talking about disinfection;
  • discuss the types of chemical disinfectants and the pros and cons of using each;
  • examine the factors that affect germicidal action.


Paul Langan

Paul worked for 25 years in occupational health and safety in the federal government. Part of his responsibilities was to develop and implement a laboratory safety manual. Chemical Disinfectants was a chapter in that manual.

#coronavirus #disinfectants #safety

Popular posts from this blog

Rare R. Forbes Mill Silent Film - Early Hespeler Ontario

Enjoy this film from the early 1900's showing the R Forbes Mill on Queen Street West. In 1874 Robert Forbes of Scotland purchased the Randall, Farr & Co. Woollen Mill on Queen St. West in Hespeler. The company was incorporated in 1888 as R. Forbes & Co. Ltd. with Robert's sons George and James serving as president and company director respectively. In 1895 with the passing of Robert and James, George took over full operation of the company building it into the largest textile mill in the British Commonwealth. George continued to lead the company until 1928 when it was sold to the Dominion Woollens and Worsteds Co. Ltd. Dominion Woollens and Worsteds Ltd. came into Hespeler in 1928 when the company purchased the R. Forbes Company Ltd. mill at what is now Queen St. West in Cambridge. The company would operate in Hespeler until 1959 when it went into receivership and was purchased by Silknit. As the largest woollens and worsteds mill in the British colonies at the time, th

Miracle In Preston - The Story of the Preston Springs Hotel

Preston Spring Hotel Book The Miracle in Preston - Story of Preston Springs Hotel. In 2000 I published this small booklet. At that time the Preston Springs Hotel was bought and considerable renovations were being done. Unfortunately the owners went bankrupt. CLICK HERE to read and download the book.

Hespeler Railway Station Rare Video - Inside and Outside of the Station

I found this slide presentation of the station and updated it to a movie. Sad to watch in some ways. From a historical prospective it is priceless.