Chemicals are often dealt with on projects. The chemicals can range in severity from sulfuric acid to Windex but we all need to know how to properly handle these chemicals. The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals, commonly referred to as “GHS”, have been adopted into law to help streamline the transfer of information from the manufacturer to the end-user. This information is provided in 3 ways :
Hazard Classification: Provides specific criteria for classification and severity of health and physical hazards, in addition to the classification of mixtures.
Labels: Manufacturers and importers of chemicals are required to provide a label that includes a signal word, pictogram, hazard statement(s), precautionary statements, and the name/address/phone number of the manufacturer or responsible party.
Safety Data Sheets (SDS’s): (Formerly MSDS’s), now require the use of 16-section format, which specifies the order of the information and the content of each section.
SDS’s should be readily available in the field for the employees because they provide information about the chemical. All should be familiar with SDS format, location, and information contained in them.
First Aid – Basic first aid information is available on the product label, but the SDS will provide more detail on the symptoms of exposure, as well as greater detail for initial treatment.
Firefighting – Some chemicals require specific firefighting techniques or create special hazards when involved in a fire. The information in this section instructs firefighters on suitable fire extinguishing techniques.
Spills – Spills may necessitate special handling procedures for PPE or those responding. Methods for containing and cleaning up a release are also described.
Storage and Handling – The segregation of incompatible materials and other safe storage and handling procedures are detailed.
Routes of Exposure – More in-depth information on how the chemical can affect you, including exposure limits and the effects of acute and chronic exposure.