You may not think that chemical safety applies to you. However, even common cleaning products are considered chemicals and could be potentially hazardous. Would you know what to do if some household cleaners accidentally got onto your skin or splashed in your eyes? It’s important for all workers to be aware of how to handle all chemicals found in the workplace.
It’s been a couple of years since the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) was updated to align with the Globally Harmonized System (GHS). This alignment created a unified way of classifying chemicals and reduced trade barriers. Knowing how to read labels and Safety Data Sheets can help you quickly identify necessary information in the event of a spill or other accident.
Updates to the HCS included hazard classification guidelines. There are specific criteria for classifying the health and physical hazards of chemicals. This guidance helps to ensure that manufacturers and importers relay similar information regarding hazards and warnings.
The labels on chemical containers include a signal word, pictogram(s) and hazard statement(s) for each hazard class and category. It also contains precautionary statements, which explain basic first aid information as well as how to store and handle the chemical. Chemical manufacturers and importers are the parties responsible for providing a label and the supplier information can be found on the upper left corner for any questions. For more information about the type of pictograms, view OSHA’s QuickCard.
Safety Data Sheets
Safety Data Sheets (SDS) share more in-depth information about the chemical. These were formerly known as Material Safety Data Sheets. All SDSs must now follow a specific 16-section format for consistency. Sections include hazard(s) identification, first-aid measures, accidental release measures, handling and storage procedures and more. SDSs are stored in a common location that should be readily accessible to all employees. For more information on each section of an SDS, view OSHA’s QuickCard.
In addition to knowing where to find chemical information, follow these tips during your workday to help avoid a chemical-related incident:
- Always follow precautions that are listed on chemicals, and ask your supervisor if you have any questions about them.
- Wear required personal protective equipment correctly, and inspect it daily for any damage.
- Do not place items or liquids into containers labeled as another chemical.
- If you find an un-labeled chemical, let your supervisor know immediately.
- If chemicals are not being used, place them back in their proper storage area.
Small to mid-size employers use Professional Employer Organizations (PEO) such as LCR Resource, Inc. to assist them in keeping a safe work place. PEO’s can assist in training staff through toolbox talks and establish safety practices to eliminate potential risk factors. Give us a call to find out more (915) 701-2325
Source: Texas Mutual Insurance Company