WHAT IS HAZARD COMMUNICATIONS?

NMSU's Chemical Hazard Communications Plan is a written plan developed to protect you from chemical materials used in the workplace.

This plan covers many aspects of identifying, handling, using, storing and disposing of chemicals and hazardous materials used in your job.

Some major points of this plan include:

1. Ensure the chemical hazards in the workplace are identified and safety information is provided (Chemical inventory).

2. Obtaining and ensuring that safety information in the form of Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) is available to employees for review and use.

3. Ensure all hazardous chemicals are properly labeled.

4. Provide training for all employees using on potential hazardous materials and chemicals and for all new employees, who may use chemicals (training schedule)

5. Provide training and or information to employees when their job duties change or when new chemicals are introduced in the job (see the checklist for HazCom training)

HOW DOES THE HAZCOM INVENTORY DATABASE WORK?   database updates - Chemical inventory

HOW DO I KNOW IF A CONTAINER IS PROPERLY LABELED?  

All hazardous chemicals, liquids, gases and solids must have a label with the following information:

1. Name (s) of the hazardous material.
2. Hazards of the chemical or chemical mixture.
3. Identification and address of the supplier or manufacture (original label only) (see HazCom Requirement)

The label may contain more details such as handling and what precautions to take in case of a spill.  It may include special precautions in handling, using, storing and disposing of the hazardous materials.  The manufacturer's instructions should be followed.

NOTE -  Even small amounts of chemicals, transferred from a larger container, which will not be used immediately, must have a label on the smaller container with

1. the name of the chemical
2. hazard of the chemical  or mixture.   (see NMSU secondary label)

NOTE: If a chemical container is improperly labeled, or not labeled, report this fact to your supervisor or EH&S, as this indicates a failure in the labeling system and this failure in the system should be quickly repaired.

WHAT ABOUT NORMAL CLEANING SUPPLIES THAT CAN BE PURCHASED IN LOCAL RETAIL STORES?

These chemicals and materials are all potentially hazardous and can cause physical and health hazards if used improperly.

These chemicals must be labeled by the manufacturer and each person must read and follow the directions printed on the manufacturer's labels.

If you use containers, other than supplied by the manufacturer, the container must also be labels with the contents of the material and the manufacturer's instructions must be followed.

Material Safety Data Sheets are required for all chemicals introduced into the workplace.

It is always important that chemicals be properly labeled and that the manufacturer's instructions for using, handling, storing and disposing of all chemicals be followed by anyone using these materials. If you have any questions, contact your supervisor or EH&S.

WHAT ARE MSDS, or MATERIAL SAFETY DATA SHEETS?    MORE INFORMATION ON MSDSs

Material Safety Data Sheets are provided by the chemical manufacturer, importer or distributor. The information contained in these MSDSs contain more detailed and technical information on each specific chemical used in the workplace.

Each manufacturer has their version of MSDS, however, regardless of the MSDS format, certain required information will be contained on the Material Safety Data Sheets. In other words, the format of the sheet may be different from manufacturer to manufacturer, but the information will be provided on the MSDS.

Each MSDS will contain the following information:

1. Introductions and chemical identification.
2. Hazardous ingredients, if any.
3. Physical and chemical characteristics.
4. Fire and explosion hazard data.
5. Reactivity data.
6. Health hazard data.
7. Safe use and handling instructions.
8. Control measures.
9. Date of preparation of MSDS and responsible person.
10. First aid measures for exposure.

WHAT IS THE INTRODUCTION OR IDENTIFICATION SECTION ON AN MSDS?

This section identifies the hazardous material name, its ingredients by common and/or scientific name and the name and address and phone number of the manufacturer or importer.

WHAT IS IN THE HAZARDOUS INGREDIENTS SECTION ON AN MSDS?

A chemical is not normally simply one chemical, but composed of several chemicals in a mixture.

If the chemical is not a mixture, this section will list the hazardous chemical material and its health/physical hazards and permissible exposure limits.

If the chemical is a mixture, the common name of the mixture and its hazardous ingredients will be listed along with the know health/physical hazards and exposure limits.

It's important to know and understand the chemical ingredients of any mixture, as a mixture may pose more than one health or physical hazard. The chemical manufacturer will explain the precautions and other information when using a mixture of any chemical.

Carcinogens (capable of causing cancer) must be listed if they make up more than one-tenth of one percent of the total mixture.

Any ingredients posing a physical hazard, such as harmful to skin or other physical hazards must also be listed.

WHAT IS IN THE PHYSICAL AND CHEMICAL CHARACTERISTICS SECTION?

The chemical characteristics of the chemical material include the appearance and odor of the substance.

The physical characteristics of the chemical include the boiling point, evaporation rate, solubility in water, specific gravity and vapor pressure and density. This information is used to plan a safe work environment where chemicals are used.

WHAT IS IN THE FIRE AND EXPLOSION HAZARD DATA SECTION?

This section lists the physical hazards, such as combustibility and flammability properties of the chemical.

Specifically, it list the chemical's flash point, flammable limits and any unusual circumstances that might cause an explosion or fire.

Fire extinguishing material and types of extinguishers to properly extinguish the fire, should one occur. Special fire fighting techniques will also be show in this section.

WHAT IS IN THE REACTIVITY DATA SECTION?

This section provides information regarding the compatibility of materials and other chemicals with this specific chemical.

Some chemicals react violently, when mixed with certain other chemicals, or the effectiveness of one chemical may be affected when mixed or used with other chemicals.

Reactivity data simply gives you the information relating to precautions necessary to avoid unwanted reactions to other chemicals.

WHAT INFORMATION IS CONTAINED IN THE HEALTH HAZARDS SECTION?

Potential health hazards of the chemical will be listed in greater detail than given on labels. There are varying types of health hazards, but the most commonly identifiable ones are cancer-causing exposures, acute exposures and chronic exposures.

An acute exposure can be a large amount of chemical vapor into the respiratory system, which exceeds permissible exposure standards. This could occur from a large spill or other incident. An acute exposure could result from ingestion of the chemical and other exposures.

Chronic exposure means you are exposed to these chemicals over a period of time. If you use large quantities of acetone, over a period of time, the exposure exceeds acceptable standards, which could affect your health. Generally, the manufacturer recommends exposure limits of the chemical that should not be exceeded and these limits will be listed in this section.

First aid for acute exposure is listed in this section.

WHAT INFORMATION IS PROVIDED FOR SAFE HANDLING OF THE CHEMICAL?

This section lists the precautions necessary for routine handling and use of the chemical and may also list special requirements for storing the chemical.

Instructions for the proper clean up procedures in the event of a spill is listed. Special waste disposal methods are outlined in this section and the manufacturer may add information regarding federal or state waste disposal regulations.

WHAT IS LISTED IN THE CONTROL MEASURES SECTION?

Personal protective equipment requirements or engineering controls, such as ventilation or other control measures are listed in this section.

Special levels of use or combinations of personal protective equipment may be listed by the manufacturer.

WHAT IS THE DATE AND PREPARATION SECTION?

Information relating to the responsible party and individual's name, telephone number and date the Material Data Sheet was prepared.

This information is useful, to determine the date of the MSDS, so you may compare other MSDSs provided by other suppliers, to determine the most up to date information.

If there are conflicting information relating to the same chemical, you should be able to contact the supplier or manufacturer to resolve the conflict of information.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN "PHYSICAL AND HEALTH" HAZARDS?

A PHYSICAL HAZARD is classified as a hazard that can do harm to people, but as differentiated from health hazard, this type of hazard would mean harm to your skin or other body parts. If you spill sulfuric acid on unprotected skin, the acid will burn your skin. This is a physical hazard.

A HEALTH HAZARD is classified as a hazard that can do harm to people, but from a health definition. Breathing vapors from a harmful chemical is a health hazard, or exposure of a harmful chemical through absorption of the skin into your blood stream is an example of a health hazard.

Some chemicals can be both a "PHYSICAL and HEALTH" hazard. It's important to read and understand the potential hazards of each chemical used in the workplace and take the necessary precautions to avoid exposure or prevent these hazards from affecting your health and safety.

Additional information is available on the following

  1. Chemical Safety Frequently Asked Questions
  2. HazCom Standard
  3. NMSU Written HazCom Plan
  4. MSDS- Summary   
  5. MSDS Terms  
  6. MSDS Definitions 
  7. Labeling
  8. Personal protective equipment  - PPE
  9. Student rules for safe chemical use

 

Contact Information 
 Environmental Health& Safety: MSC-3578, P.O. Box 30001, Academic Research Bldg. C, Rm. 109
    Street delivery address: NMSU, 1620 Standley Dr., Academic Research Bldg. C, Las Cruces, NM 88003
    Training Office: Academic Research Unit C, rm110 (see map ), 
    Telephone: 575-646-3327; FAX: 575-646-7898. Website - http://www.nmsu.edu/safety
    Send email to David Shearer, EH&S (click here) with questions or comments about this web site. 
    This page was last updated on 08/22/2008