In March 2012, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) revised its
Hazard Communication Standard to align it with the United Nations Globally Harmonized
System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). The revision to the Hazard
Communication Standard (HCS) built on the existing standard, by requiring chemical
manufacturers, importers, or distributors to follow specific criteria when evaluating
the hazardous chemicals and when communicating the hazards through labels and safety
data sheets (SDS). The previous standard required chemical manufacturers, importers,
or distributors to communicate hazards through Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS).
Chemical manufacturers and distributors are required by OSHA to provide Safety Data
Sheets (SDS) to ensure the end-user of chemical products is informed of the hazards
associated with the use of the chemical and what safety precautions should be utilized.
The same SDS may be used for several chemicals if they have similar hazards and contents.
Each department must maintain a complete and accurate SDS for each chemical used in
the workplace upon the purchase of a chemical.
SDSs are available electronically from most major manufacturers. Smaller companies
may distribute paper copies with the product. End users must retain copies of any
SDS that they receive, and ensure that studio personnel are granted access to them.
Electronic accessibility of these documents is an acceptable substitute to paper copies
only if the personnel have demonstrated the ability to locate the necessary information
and there is a backup means for obtaining an SDS in the case that the electronic system
Occupational Exposure Limits (OELs) are airborne concentrations that have been set
as safety limits for employees for a set period of time (8 hour working day). OSHA
has published Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) for many chemicals. The American
Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), a professional organization,
has published Threshold Limit Values (TLVs). PELs and TLVs, as well as exposure limits
published by other countries, may be specified in the SDS. Employees must be familiar
with these terms and limits for the chemicals in use in the work area. If an employee
suspects that their exposure may exceed the OEL, they should contact the Safety Office
immediately for exposure monitoring.
Supervisors have the responsibility to ensure all known hazardous chemicals present
in the workplace display a precautionary label. The Globally Harmonized System (GHS)
requires the following information be included on manufacturer labels:
- Chemical Name: Simply identify the product or chemical name.
- Signal word: Use to indicate the relative level of the severity of the hazard and alert the reader
to a potential hazard. The signal words are “Danger” for more severe hazards and
“Warning” for less severe hazards.
- Hazard statement: These are phrases that describe the nature of the hazardous chemical and the degree
of hazard(s). Examples are: toxic if swallowed, may cause skin irritation.
- Pictograms: There are nine different pictograms used to identify hazardous products with symbols.
They convey health, physical, and environmental hazard information assigned to a GHS
hazard class and category.
- Precautionary Statement: Is a phrase that describes recommended measures to minimize or prevent adverse effects
resulting from exposure to or improper storage or handling.
- Manufacturer Information: Identifies the manufacturer’s company name, address, and phone number.
A labeling guidance document detailing the pictograms and required information is available for review.
If the chemical label on the original container becomes damaged, illegible, or is
inadvertently removed from the container, it must be replaced immediately. The replacement
label must include the same information that was initially provided by the manufacture,
importer, or distributor. All labels must be legible, in English, and be prominently
displayed on the container.
Secondary Container Labels
Chemicals which are transferred from the original container into a different secondary
container must be identified by a label on the secondary container. All secondary
containers should use either the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), Hazardous
Materials Information System (HMIS), or manufacturer’ s label of the appropriate size
for the container. Secondary labels must include the following:
- Chemical name
- Date when transferred
- Associated hazards (toxic, flammable, corrosive, etc.)
The NFPA diamond was developed by the National Fire Protection Association to aid emergency responders in recognizing potentially hazardous situations. Each
colored diamond is associated with a different type of hazard and the degree of severity
of Health, Flammability, and Instability hazards. Hazard severity is indicated by
a numerical rating that ranges from zero (0) indicating a minimal hazard, to four
(4) indicating a severe hazard. The bottom diamond represents special hazards and
has a white background. The special hazards in use include W, OX, and SA. The symbol W indicates
unusual reactivity with water and is a caution about the use of water in either firefighting
or spill control response. The symbol OX, indicates that the material is an oxidizer.
The symbol SA, indicates that the material is an asphyxiate gas. Example gases are
nitrogen, helium, neon, argon, krypton, or xenon.
Hazardous Materials Identification System (HMIS) is a system developed by the National Paint and Coating Association (NPCA) to help identify and provide information about chemical hazards. The label contains
four (4) different colored rectangular shapes that are related to different hazards
similar to the NFPA system. Hazard severity is indicated by a numerical rating that
ranges from zero (0) indicating a minimal hazard, to four (4) indicating a severe
hazard. The Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) section of the label requires the
use of a chart or table to determine which letter code corresponds to appropriate
PPE that should be used when working with the chemical. The HMIS PPE chart should
be posted in the work area for quick and easy recognition by employees.
A major concern in many areas is the proper storage of chemicals. The best approach
to this issue will vary depending on the chemical inventory and storage space available.
To lessen the risk of exposure to hazardous chemicals, trained personnel should separate
and store all chemicals according to hazard category and compatibility. In the event
of an accident involving a broken container or spill, incompatible chemicals that
are stored in close proximity can mix to produce fires, hazardous fumes, and explosions.
Prudent chemical management involves the following processes:
- Store chemicals in the smallest quantities possible. Excessive purchases of hazardous
chemicals invariably result in increased safety risks, compliance tasks, and costs
- Ensure all chemical containers are properly labeled. Do not remove or deface manufacturer
- Secondary containers must be labeled with the required information on the original
container OR the product identifier (full chemical name, no abbreviations) AND words, pictures,
symbols, or combination thereof, which provide at least general information regarding
the hazards of the chemical and will provide employees with specific information regarding
the hazards of the chemical. The date of transfer or solution preparation should also
be included on the secondary container label.
- When storing chemicals on open shelves, always use sturdy shelves that are secured
to the wall and contain ¾ inch lips.
- Do not store liquid chemicals higher than 5 feet, on the floor, in the aisles or areas
of egress, or on the benchtop. Designate a storage location away from heat and light
and return containers to that location after each use.
- Store chemicals in compatible cabinets. Acids will corrode metal cabinets, so use
an approved acid cabinet. Store flammable materials in an approved flammable cabinet.
Only explosion proof refrigerators should be used to store flammable chemicals that
require cool storage. Domestic units should not be used to store chemicals as they
possess ignition sources that can result in fires and explosions.
- Do not store chemicals in the fume hood. Excess storage interferes with the air flow
and can become a source of hazardous materials discharge as well as a fire hazard.
- Use unbreakable secondary containers such as bins or bottle jackets for corrosive/hazardous
liquids and other high hazard materials.
- Flammable materials in a quantity greater than 10 gallons must be stored in an approved
- Periodically inspect stored chemical containers for damage and label legibility. Damaged
containers should be disposed of. Illegible labels should be replaced.
- Label the storage cabinets so areas of higher risk are easily identified (flammable,
corrosive, toxic, oxidizer, water reactive, etc.)
- Store chemicals in compatible storage groups to prevent incompatible materials from
reacting. Do not store chemicals in alphabetical order, except within the same storage
- Always review the SDS to determine compatibility and storage requirements of chemicals
Review the Compatible Storage Group Classification Chart and contact the Safety Office if you have any questions regarding chemical storage
in your area.
A system for maintaining an accurate chemical inventory on campus is essential for
compliance with local and state regulations and any applicable building codes. Supervisors
should maintain an up-to-date chemical inventory and a physical chemical inventory
must be performed at least annually and submitted to the Safety and Risk Management
Office. The benefits of performing an annual inventory include:
- Ensures chemicals are stored according to compatibility
- Checks expiration dates and eliminates unneeded or outdated chemicals
- Updates the hazard warning signage on the studio door
- Promotes more efficient use of the space and ensures integrity of shelving and cabinets
- Replaces illegible or missing labels
The chemical inventory should include the following information:
- Chemical name and Chemical Abstract Number (CAS)
- Manufacturer & product number (reorder #, catalog #, etc.)
- Quantity & location
The University provides non-emergency and initial emergency response services through
Campus Police, the Safety and Risk Management Office, and Facilities Operations.
Campus Police provides 24/7 coverage and will contact specific resources as needed.
A list of contact numbers should be posted in a visible area of your work space.
Where a response will be needed at the time of an emergency, a written plan describing
the actions that are to be taken and an emergency contact list for employees must
be documented by the studio supervisor.
Types of Incidents
Each area should consider the types of incidents that could have a negative effect
on people, property, the environment, and research efforts and participate in planning
efforts to mitigate the impact of an emergency and the required response for each
situation (i.e. backup power for critical equipment).
- For emergencies that may impact building integrity and/or harm people, evacuate the
immediate area and call 911.
- For other incidents/accidents that do not pose immediate danger to people or the environment,
call the Safety and Risk Management Office to report the incident and illicit assistance
- If maintenance support is required, contact Facilities Management.
Chemical Spill Response
In the event of a chemical spill, protection of personnel should be the primary concern,
then protection of property. Many spills are of limited hazard potential and personnel
can clean them up safely. Your area should be equipped to handle small low-hazard
spills. Spill kits with appropriate instructions, PPE, and absorbents must be available
so that employees may safely clean up minor chemical spills. It is the responsibility
of the supervisor to ensure that it is stocked with needed supplies, and that all
employees know where the kit is located and how to use it. Employees should be familiar
with the hazards of the chemicals they work with and should have a sense of the need
for spill clean-up assistance from the Safety Office.
Chemical Spill Kit: Every area where chemicals are stored or in use should have access to a chemical spill
kit for minor spills. The spill kit should include the following:
- Absorbent material (vermiculite, absorbent pads, etc.)
- Neutralizers for corrosives or toxics
- Materials to limit the flow of a spill (absorbent sock/boom)
- PPE (gloves, safety goggles)
- Container/bags to collect the hazard spill contents
- Hazard waste tag/label to identify the contents
Minor Chemical Spills can be handled by staff without assistance following these general guidelines:
- Avoid breathing vapors from the spill
- Alert people in the immediate area of the spill
- If spilled material is flammable turn off ignition and heat sources
- Reference the SDS for appropriate PPE, spill response, and first aid measures
- Put on all appropriate PPE
- Confine spill to small area
- Use appropriate kit to neutralize and absorb acids and bases
- Use appropriate kit or spill pads for other chemicals
- Collect residue, place in appropriate container, label and dispose as chemical waste
- Clean spill area with water
Some spills may be more hazardous and personnel should not attempt cleanup. You should
evacuate the room and call the Safety and Risk Management Office (828-227-7443) if
a spill situation involves any of the following:
- a respiratory hazard
- a threat of fire or explosion
- more than 100 mL of an OSHA regulated chemical carcinogen or a highly toxic chemical
- more than 1 liter of a volatile or flammable solvent
- more than 1 liter of a corrosive (acid or base) liquid
- elemental (liquid) mercury spills
Major chemical spills
There may be little time to shut down procedures and secure activities and materials,
so initial procedures should be to close containers and contain the spill if possible
and initiate evacuation.
- Alert people in the area to evacuate
- If spilled material is flammable turn off ignition and heat sources
- Call 911 and notify the Safety and Risk Management Office (x7443)
- Attend to contaminated persons and remove them from exposure
- Have a person knowledgeable of the area assist the emergency personnel
Provide the following information when calling for assistance with a chemical spill:
- Caller’s name and phone number
- Location of the incident
- Location to meet the caller in the event that they have to evacuate the premises
- Identity and quantity of the material spilled, if known, and any odors present
- Any injuries
The University is required to report any “reportable quantity” releases of hazardous
chemicals to the environment, such as releases of compressed gases, outdoor spills,
and discharges to the sewers. The Safety Office must be notified immediately of any
release to the environment to ensure that the appropriate notifications are made.
- Flood exposed area with running water for at least 15 minutes. If in eyes, rinse eyeball
and inner surface of eyelid with water, forcibly holding eye open to effectively wash
- Remove all contaminated clothing and shoes.
- If medical attention is needed, proceed to campus Health Services for medical care.
Provide medical professionals with SDS sheets to ensure proper first aid and diagnosis.
If immediate medical care is needed call 911.
- Report the incident to supervisor and complete a Report of Work-related Accident,
Injury, or Illness.
Some chemicals have acute exposure effects that may be relieved or minimized by an
antidote (i.e. calcium gluconate gel is to be used for first aid in the case of a
hydrofluoric acid burn.) Using an antidote does not negate the need to seek medical
attention immediately. Refer to SDS information to know if antidotes need to be stocked,
or contact the Safety and Risk Management Office for guidance. Periodically check
the expiration date for the antidotes to ensure that they will be effective if needed.
The University has incident reporting procedures in place to comply with federal and
state regulations. Incidents resulting in personal injuries to employees, students,
and visitors while on University property, or during University employment or activity
off campus, must be reported to the Safety and Risk Management Office within 24 hours.
Near miss incidents which do not result in an injury or illness but could have under
slightly different circumstances should also be reported to the Safety and Risk Management
Office. Reporting a near miss allows us to determine how and why it occurred and
to take action to prevent a similar, or more serious, incident from happening in the