Hazard Communication - Haz Com
Material Safety Data Sheets
You probably work with hazardous materials and chemicals everyday.
Cleaning supplies, pesticides, soaps, detergents, solvents,
gasoline, and many others.
You name it, they're all part of your job. You use these
same basic chemicals in your home. Are you at risk by using
chemicals? There is no one, specific answer to the question.
We can't possibly cover all chemical hazards, but we simply
want to provide some basic information to help reduce health
A hazardous chemical is any chemical that poses a
physical or health hazard. Physical hazards include
combustible liquids, compressed gas, explosive or flammable
liquid, organic peroxides, oxidizers, or pyrophoric
chemicals. Health hazards include those chemicals creating
acute or chronic health effects. Basically anything that can
damage the eyes, lungs, skin or mucous membranes. All this
tells you is practically every chemical at home or work has
a potential physical or health hazard. Of course, each
chemical has varying degrees of hazards and for that reason
it's critical for you to read and follow the instructions
and warnings labels on all chemicals.
Gasoline is a physical and health hazard and it's used
safely by millions of people. Learn the hazard and take the
steps necessary to avoid the risks.
This program is called HAZARD COMMUNICATIONS, "YOUR
RIGHT TO KNOW". More importantly, it's your need to
know. You already have an understanding of the chemicals you
use at home and work, and you certainly are aware that some
chemicals can be hazardous to your health if used
Treat all chemicals as potential physical and health
hazard. Maybe they are, maybe they aren't, but why take a
chance. Water can be dangerous if you don't use it properly.
Common hand lotion will make you sick if you drink it. The
point we're trying to make is to treat all chemicals with
respect, read and follow the information printed on the
label. The next step in the educational process is to know
more information about the chemicals used in your job.
The company maintains a MATERIAL SAFETY DATA SHEET on
every chemical in the workplace. This MSDS is provided by
the chemical manufacturer and contains information on each
chemical. A chemical inventory is maintained and if a new
chemical, such as a new cleaner or paint, is introduced... a
MATERIAL SAFETY DATA SHEET will be added.
The MSDS serves several important functions. The
information on the MSDS is used by management to determine
the type of safety equipment needed to protect against
The information is also the basis for policies and
procedures to reduce potential physical and health hazards,
including how to safely use, store, handle and dispose of a
particular chemical. The information contained in the
Material Safety Data Sheet is available to you, if you're
interested in more information about a specific chemical.
All you have to do is check the information on the data
Quickly, let's review what type of information is
contained on the data sheet.
Section 1 is product identification, manufacturer and
identifies the chemical and trade names of the substance.
Section 2 lists the hazardous ingredients including
hazardous mixtures of liquids, solids or gases. This section
also lists any carcinogenic or cancer causing components, if
any are contained in the chemical.
Section 3 explains the physical characteristics of the
substance. This section gives engineering and management
information on flash points, solubility rate, evaporation
rate and other physical characteristics to help determine
how to use the chemical safely.
Section 4 deals with fire and explosion hazards and
extinguishing fires containing this chemical. It's always a
good idea to notify your local fire department if you use
chemicals requiring special fire fighting techniques or
Section 5 contains reactivity information, such as what
chemicals, liquids or substances may react to this
Section 6 is extremely important, as it explains
potential health hazards. You need to know if the substance
is harmful, then take the required precautions to reduce
exposure. Section 6 also includes emergency first aid and
Section 7 explains the type of protective equipment or
engineering controls required to reduce exposure. It may
specify safety glasses, gloves, respirators, ventilation
equipment or other hygiene procedures.
Section 8 contains procedures for spills or leaks. You
can't just wash spilled chemicals down the drain, or mop
them up and throw the residue in the trash. Each chemical
has specific procedures that must be carefully followed.
This information is also used to prepare emergency action
Although the sections may be different on your Material
Data Sheet, all the information will be contained on the
Material Safety Data Sheet. Material Safety Data Sheets must
contain this information, although the forms used may be
slightly different from manufacturer to manufacturer. It's
your right to know and the information is available, all you
have to do is ask your supervisor.
Last, but not least is chemical signs and Certainly, your
employer has established policies and labels.' procedures,
therefore follow your company's guidelines. Generally, every
chemical must be labeled, with the contents. Frequently,
chemicals are shipped in larger containers, but the smaller
container may not be labeled. It's up to you to identify the
contents of all chemical containers.
There have been thousands of accidents and injuries
because of mislabeled contents, or no label at all. Hazard
Communications, Your right to know is a fancy title for
being aware of potential hazards, reading and following the
information contained on chemical labels and of course, if
you want more information about a particular chemical, ask
your supervisor for the Material Safety Data Sheet. This
information won't do you any good if you don't put it to
Chemicals in today's society are here to stay and many of
the chemicals are extremely safe to use, but all chemicals
must be treated with respect and you must always follow the
manufacturer's recommendations and instructions. Never mix
any chemicals unless you have been trained and authorized by
Even at home, improper mixing of chemicals can be
extremely hazardous. If you mix a common household chlorine
cleaner with ammonia, it can form a deadly gas called
chloramine. Of course, avoid a very common mistake of
thinking more is better. You've all done it, like adding
just a bit more of the cleaner or liquid so it will do a
better job. If the label specifies one tablespoon, don't
think 2 or 3 tablespoons will work 2 or 3 times better.
Follow the directions.
That's about it, but it's really up to you to work and
act safely. Safety is your responsibility and all the rules,
regulations, policies, labels or Material Safety Data Sheets
won't do any good, if you don't take the responsibility to
perform every job safely. It won't slow you down or
interfere with your job. It will reduce accidents and
injuries. You can also take safety home with you.
More detailed information on
& Hazard Communication
can be found in the Members Area