Hazard Communication Program
This section has been reviewed and updated as needed: November 2017
The Department of Environment, Health and Safety will coordinate implementation of the Hazard Communication Program and will assist Departments in obtaining safety data sheets and in conducting general safety training and workplace hazard communication inspections.
- Physical Hazards: Create dangerous situations, and have been proven to be combustible liquid, compressed gas, explosive, flammable, organic peroxide, oxidizer, pyrophoric, and unstable, or water-reactive chemicals.
- Health Hazards: Chemicals that can produce negative health affects in exposed employees. These can be chemicals that are toxic, carcinogenic, corrosive, irritant, or sensitizing.
- A chemical is considered to be carcinogenic if:
- it has been evaluated by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IRAC), and found to be a carcinogen or potential carcinogen; or
- it is listed as carcinogen or potential carcinogen in theAnnual Report on Carcinogens published by the National Toxicology Program (NTP); or
- it is regulated by OSHA as a carcinogen.
- Health hazards can cause either acute or chronic effects. Acute health effects are the negative effects from a substance that occur after one or multiple exposures in a short period of time. (Ex. Spilling Hydrochloric Acid on your hand.) Chronic health effects are the negative effects from a substance that occur over a longer period of time, usually from repeated exposure of low doses. Sometimes delayed for years. (Ex. Being exposed to Asbestos fibers.)
Pictograms are required on labels to alert users of the chemical hazards to which they may be exposed. Each pictogram consists of a symbol on a white background framed within a red border and represents a distinct hazard(s), such as health, physical, and environmental. The pictogram on the label is determined by the chemical hazard classification. There are nine pictograms with only the environmental pictogram being optional.
Signal Word is used to indicate the relative level of severity of hazard and alert the reader to a potential hazard on the label. The signal words used are:
- “Danger” – used for the more severe hazards
- “Warning” – used for less severe hazards.
Hazard Statement describes the nature of the hazard(s) of a chemical, including where appropriate the degree of hazard. All of the applicable hazard statements must appear on the label.
Precautionary statement is a statement that describes recommended measures that should be taken to minimize or prevent adverse effects.
- Identification of the substance or mixture
- Hazards identification of the substance
- Composition/information or ingredients/Mixture
- First aid measures
- Firefighting measures
- Accidental release measures
- Handling and storage
- Exposure controls/personal protection
- Physical and chemical properties
- Stability and reactivity
- Ecological information (non-mandatory)
- Disposal considerations (non-mandatory)
- Transport information (non-mandatory)
- Regulatory information (non-mandatory)
- Other information including information on preparation and revision of the SDS
University departments are to maintain all SDS received and to make them readily available to their employees in a file or notebook, or an accessible computer file. If an SDS for a chemical is not received, the chemical manufacturer or distributor should be contacted to obtain the SDS. Efforts to obtain the SDS are to be documented by either a telephone log, computer database or with copies of correspondence. Assistance in obtaining SDSs is available from Department of Environment, Health and Safety.
Hazardous chemical safety training is to include the following essential information:
- Interpreting information on labels and SDSs
- Location of hazardous materials in the workplace
- Location and availability of material safety data sheets
- Acute and chronic effects of chemicals
- Safe handling procedures
- Personal protective equipment
- Methods used to detect leaks and releases
- First Aid
- Spill clean-up and emergency procedures
- Waste disposal
The Department of Environment, Health and Safety has developed training programs including slide programs explaining the Chemical Hazard Communication Program, the toxic effects of chemicals, and the safe handling of hazardous chemicals in the workplace. The Department of Environment, Health and Safety should be contacted to schedule these programs.
In addition to general chemical safety training it is the responsibility of the supervisor to provide training for the specific chemicals used or stored in the work area and whenever a new hazard is introduced. Training should be documented by keeping records, such as job briefings and Job Safety Analysis (JSA). The documentation shall include when training sessions were held, who attended, and the contents/outline of the training.
- Inhalation is the primary route of entry which includes airborne contaminants such as gases, vapors, and particulate matter that enters the body.
- Absorption can occur very quickly through cuts or abrasions on the skin, and may also occur even when skin is intact. Mucous membranes and eye tissue are particularly vulnerable to absorption.
- Ingestion can occur by the direct tasting of chemicals, and by ingesting contaminated food or putting personal items such as make-up on one’s face. This is the reason that food, drinks, cosmetics, and other items are banned from laboratory areas. Labeling containers and practicing good housekeeping are ways of controlling the possibility of ingesting a chemical. If you work in a lab or perform maintenance in a lab, always make sure you wash your hands before leaving.
- Injection can occur from needle sticks, broken glass, broken capillary tubes, or broken pipettes. Make sure that carefully planned procedures are in place when handling broken materials. Needle blocks should be in place to prevent accidental needle sticks.