In 1983, the Federal Government established the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard. This standard is designed to protect employees who use hazardous materials on the job.

The Hazard Communication Standard states that companies which produce and use hazardous materials must provide their employees with information and training on the proper handling and use of these materials.

You, as an employee, have a Right to Know about the hazardous materials used in your work area and the potential effects of these materials upon your health and safety.

The OSHA Hazard Communication Standard is composed of five key elements. These five key elements are:
1.  Materials Inventory - A list of the hazardous materials present in your work area.
2.  Safety Data Sheets - A detailed description of each hazardous material listed in the Materials Inventory.
3.  Labeling - Containers of hazardous materials must have labels which identify the material and warn of its potential hazard to employees.
4.  Training - All employees must be trained to identify and work safely with hazardous materials.
5.  Written Program - A written program must be developed which ties all of the above together.

GHS Video

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The first step.

Hazardous materials (chemical products) are everywhere. It has been estimated that over a half million chemical products are used by business and industry every year. Some of these chemical products pose little danger to you, while others are deadly.

Modern manufacturing would not be possible without chemicals. However, like machinery or electrical equipment, you must know how to use chemicals safely.

The first step in using chemicals safely is to recognize those materials that may be hazardous to your health or physical safety.

What do I need to know?

Employees often ask themselves the following questions:
  1.  How can this material hurt me?
2.  What can I do to protect myself?
3.  Where can I find the answers to the first two questions?

Where to Find the Information you need to know?

Your most immediate source for information can be found on labels attached to containers which hold various hazardous materials.

Your second source of information is Materials Safety Data Sheets (SDSs). Safety Data Sheets will be discussed in the next section.

Information concerning the hazardous materials you work with can be found on container labels and Safety Data Sheets?

  • True
  • False

What must be Labeled?

The OSHA Hazard Communication Standard requires that ALL hazardous materials be labeled. Labels must appear either on the container itself, the batch ticket, placard, or the process sheets.

Hazardous chemicals in portable containers which are for the immediate use of the employee who performs the transfer is the exception to this rule.

Only very hazardous materials must be labeled.

  • True
  • False

Basic label information.

OSHA requires that the following information be included on ALL labels:

1.  The product name
2.  A warning statement, message or symbol; and
3.  On commercial labels, manufacturers of hazardous materials must include their name and address. Many manufacturers also include a statement describing safe handling procedures.

Sample Label

Key Words

As you read labels, you will see key words which signal you that you should take extra care when handling a particular hazardous material. These key words include:



For example, the key word "DANGER" means:

1. Protective equipment and/or clothing is required before use;

2. Misuse can result in immediate harm, long term effects, or death; and

3. The chemical may be toxic, corrosive, or flammable.

Hazard Class

Each colored bar or small diamond represents a different class of hazard. The hazard classes found on labels include Health, Flammability, Reactivity, and in some cases, Special Hazards.

Each hazard class uses a different color and a rating scale from 0 - 4.


Hazard classes on labels are represented by?

  • Letter
  • Number
  • Color

Health Hazards

The first hazard class is Health Hazards. This hazard class is colored BLUE.

The rating scale for Health Hazards is listed below:

0 - No Hazard
1 - Slight Hazard
2 - Dangerous
3 - Extreme Danger
4 - Deadly

Flammability Hazards

The second hazard class is Flammability Hazards. This hazard class is colored RED.

The rating scale for flammability hazards is based on the flash point of the material. The flash point is the temperature at which the material gives off enough vapors to sustain ignition.


0 - Will Not Burn
1 - Ignites Above 200 Degrees Fahrenheit
2 - Ignites Below 200 Degrees Fahrenheit 
3 - Ignites Below 100 Degrees Fahrenheit 
4 - Ignites Below 73 Degrees Fahrenheit



The third hazard class is the Reactivity of the material. This hazard class is colored YELLOW.

The rating scale for Reactivity is listed below:

0 - Stable
1 - Normally Stable
2 - Unstable
3 - Explosive
4 - May Detonate

Special Hazards

Diamond shaped labels include a fourth hazard class called Special Hazards. This hazard class is colored WHITE.

These special hazards are represented by the following symbols:


- Water Reactive
- OX - Oxidizer
- Radioactive
- COR - Corrosive
- ACD - Acid
- ALK - Alkali

The higher the number on a rating scale, the less dangerous the substance.

  • True
  • False

Safety Data Sheets

Safety Data Sheets

While labels are an effective way to display information about hazardous materials, there will be times when you will want more information than can be included on a label.

You can find additional information about the hazardous materials you work with in what is called a Safety Data Sheet, or SDS for short. You should take time to read and understand the SDSs describing the hazardous materials present in your work area.

What is in a SDS

A Safety Data Sheet (SDS) provides detailed information about a specific hazardous material. An SDS contains the following information:

  • Identity (name of substance)
  • Physical Hazards (target organ)
  • Health Hazards
  • Routes of Body Entry
  • Permissible Exposure Limits (PEL)
  • Carcinogenic Factors (cancer causing)
  • Safe-Handling Procedures
  • Date of Sheet Preparation
  • Control Measures (personal protective equipment)
  • Emergency First Aid Procedures (emergency telephone number)
  • Contact Information (for the preparer of the sheet)
  • Special Instructions

Sample SDS

This is a sample page from the SDS for Nitric Acid, 70 percent.

The product is made by the ABC Rubber Company, Science Products Division, P.O. Box M, Altonia, Illinois 40361. Effective date is 8-21-85.

Product identification, synonyms, other names for nitric acid are: aqua fortis, azotic acid, nitric acid 70 percent. Formula CAS Number 7697-37-2. Molecular weight 63.00. Hazardous ingredients, not applicable. Chemical formula, HNO3.

Precautionary measures, danger, strong oxidizer, contact with other materials may cause fire. Causes sever burns, may be fatal if swallowed. Harmful if inhaled. Do not get in eyes, on skin, or on clothing. Avoid breathing mist, use only with adequate ventilation. Wash thoroughly after handling. Do not store near combustible materials. Store in a tightly closed container. Remove and wash contaminated clothing properly.

Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) contain the following information?

  • Emergency First Aid Procedures
  • Carcinogenic Factors
  • Contact Information
  • All of the above

What Materials Have SDSs?

Safety Data Sheets are available for ALL of the hazardous materials present in your work area.

Safety Data Sheets are NOT available for all of the hazardous materials present in your work area?

  • True
  • False

When Do You Use an SDS?

You should use an SDS whenever you need additional information about a hazardous material that is not included on the product label.

For example, you have spilled nitric acid on the floor, and you need to know how to clean it up safely. You need only refer to the "Safe-Handling Procedures" section of the nitric acid SDS.

Safe-Handling Procedures Section

The Safe-Handling Procedures section of the Nitric Acid MSDS provides the following information:


Isolate or enclose the area of the leak or spill. Clean-up personnel should wear protective clothing and respiratory equipment suitable for toxic or corrosive fluids or vapors.

For small spills:

Flush with water, and neutralize with alkaline material (soda ash, lime, et cetera). Sewer with excess water.

For larger spills and lot sizes:

Neutralize with alkaline, pick up with absorbent material (sand, earth, vermiculite) and dispose in a RCRA - approved waste facility or sewer the neutralized slurry with excess water if local ordinances allow. Provide forced ventilation to dissipate fumes.

Reportable Quantity (RQ) (CWA/CERCLA): 1000 pounds

Insure compliance with local, state and federal regulations.

You should use an SDS whenever you need additional information about a hazardous material that is not included on the product label.

  • True
  • False

When do you use an SDS

Some chemicals, such as sodium hydroxide, are very dangerous. If you have an accident, you may not have time to look up the information you need in an SDS. You should read the SDSs for the hazardous materials present in your work area before you work with them.

Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) should be referred to whenever detailed information is needed on any hazardous material?

  • True
  • False

How to find an SDS

Ask your supervisor or manager where SDSs are located. Take time to read the SDSs which describe the hazardous materials present in your work area. Remember, knowing where SDSs are located and how to use them is your responsibility; it is part of your job.

Physical Hazards

Physical Hazards

Physical Hazards are one of two major classes of hazardous materials covered by the OSHA Communication Standard. The other major hazard class is Health Hazards. In this session, we will be looking at various types of physical hazards and what you need to know to use these materials safely. To help you identify materials which are physical hazards, the symbols shown below are often used.


What is a physical hazard?

Physical hazards are those substances which threaten your physical safety. The most common types of physical hazards are:

            • * Fire
              * Explosion
              * Chemical Reactivity

The most common types of physical hazards are fire, inhalation, and chemical reactivity?

  • True
  • False

Materials which use the fire symbol

There are three classes of materials which use the fire symbol.
1. Flammables can be gases, liquids or solids. Flammables ignite easily and burn rapidly. Liquid flammables have a flashpoint under 100 degrees Fahrenheit. 2. Combustibles are similar to flammables, but they do not ignite as easily. Liquid combustibles have a flash point above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. 3. Pyrophoric, or spontaneous combustion materials, burst into flames "on their own" at temperatures below 130 degrees Fahrenheit.

Working with materials with a fire symbol

Whenever you work with a material that uses the fire symbol, be sure to read the warning label and the MSDS for safe handling procedures. With flammables, combustibles, and pyrophorics, do not expose these materials to sparks, flames or other heat sources. You must also not smoke or light a match or flame near them.

Liquid flammables ignite more easily than do liquid combustibles?

  • True
  • False

Materials that use an explosive symbol

Materials That Use the Explosive Symbol

1. Explosives are materials which release a tremendous amount of energy in the form of heat, light and expanding pressure within a very short period of time. 
2. Water Reactives react with water and may explode, or they may release a gas which is flammable.
3. Unstable Reactives are chemicals that can react or can become self-reactive when subjected to shock, pressure or temperature.

Working with materials with an explosive symbol

Whenever you work with a material that uses the explosive symbol, be sure to read the warning label or the MSDS for safe handling procedures. Because materials that use the explosive symbol are often very dangerous to work with, you may need additional training or instructions from your supervisor. Always check with your supervisor before handling or using materials that use the explosive symbol.

Which of the following material classes should NOT use an Explosive symbol?

  • Explosives
  • Flammables
  • Water Reactives
  • Unstable Reactives

Materials that use the flaming O symbol

1.  Oxidizers cause other substances to burn more easily through a chemical reaction or change.
2. Organic Peroxides contain oxygen and act as powerful oxidizers.


working with materials that use the flaming O symbol

Whenever you work with a material that uses the Flaming "O" symbol, be sure to read the warning label and the MSDS for safe handling procedures.

Which of the following material classes should use a Flaming "O" symbol?

  • Organic Peroxides
  • Flammables
  • Water Reactives
  • Acids

Materials That Use the Cylinder Symbol

Many gases such as nitrogen, oxygen, and acetylene are used in the manufacturing process. In order to transport, store and use these gases, they are "bottled" under great pressure in tanks called gas cylinders.

Working with Materials That Use the Cylinder Symbol

Great care should be taken when you handle gas cylinders to insure that they are not damaged when they are moved or used. In addition, you should read the warning label and the MSDS for safe handling procedures concerning the gas contained in a gas cylinder.

The gas in a gas cylinder is stored under great pressure.

  • True
  • False

Health Hazards

Health Hazards

Health Hazards are one of two major classes of hazardous materials covered by the OSHA Communication Standard. The other major hazard class is Physical Hazards. In this session, we will be looking at various types of health hazards and what you need to know to use these materials safely. To help you identify materials which are health hazards, the symbols shown below are often used.

Toxicity vs Hazard

The term toxicity is used to describe the ability of a substance to cause a harmful effect. EVERYTHING is toxic at some dose. Even water! If someone drinks too much water at any one time, it can cause death.

Toxicity vs Dose

There is a balance between toxicity and dose. Dose is the AMOUNT of something you are exposed to, or come in contact with. The less the toxicity, the greater the dose you can tolerate without ill effects. The greater the toxicity, the less dose you can tolerate without becoming sick.

Hazard Potential

Hazard Potential is the likelihood that a specific chemical or substance (toxic material) will cause an ill effect at a given dose. The following screens will help you to understand the relationship between toxicity, dose, and hazard potential.

High Toxicity - Low Dose

For example, acetone is a highly toxic chemical. But you could work safely with it, if you were outside or in a well ventilated room where your dose would be very low. As the chart below shows, your hazard potential for working with acetone in a well ventilated room would be low.

Low Toxicity - High Dose

Let's take another example. Nitrogen gas has a low toxic rating. It is found in great amounts in the air we breathe. However, if you were in a confined space that had only nitrogen gas in it (a very high dose), you would soon die because of the lack of oxygen. As the chart below indicates, your hazard potential for working in a room filled with nitrogen would be high.

The most accurate way

Hazard potential is the most accurate way to rate how dangerous a substance is when used under a given set of circumstances. Neither the toxicity or the dose rating alone provides you with enough information on how to use a hazardous material safely. Your real concern must always be with a hazardous material's hazard potential.

Dose is the only factor that determines how a substance might affect your health.

  • True
  • False

Safe Exposure Limits

Much research has been done by government agencies and groups to establish safe exposure limits for the chemicals used in your work area.

These limits are based upon a Time Weighted Average or TWA. TWAs have been established for all the chemicals you work with and limit the average amount of a chemical you can be exposed to over an eight hour day.

Within the facility, materials which are health hazards are monitored on a regular basis to insure that no one is overexposed.

TWA is the average amount of a chemical a person can be exposed to over an eight-hour day.

  • True
  • False

Acute vs, Chronic

The effects of health hazards are classified as either:

1. Acute

2. Chronic

Acute Health Hazards

Acute Health Hazards


Acute Health Hazards are those whose effects occur immediately or soon after you come in contact with them.

For example, you accidentally spill a strong acid on your hand. The acid will begin to burn your hand immediately. Or, you begin to work with a paint solvent in a closed area, and the fumes make you feel dizzy.


Chronic Health Hazards

Chronic Health Hazards, on the other hand, are those whose effects take years or decades to occur after many exposures.

An example of a chronic health hazard would be asbestos. The dangerous effects for people who have been overexposed to asbestos take years to appear and have been linked to a number of fatal lung diseases.


Chronic effects develop after many years and repeated overexposures?

  • True
  • False

Routes of exposure

It's important to remember that hazardous materials present a health hazard only when they come into contact with the body. Chemicals can enter the body in three ways:

1. Inhalation
2. Skin absorption
3. Ingestion


Inhalation is the most common route of exposure for most health hazards. This includes breathing in dust, fumes, oil mist, and vapors from solvents and various gases.

The most common route of exposure in industrial application is:

  • Inhalation
  • Absorption
  • Ingestion
  • Injection

Skin Contact

Some chemicals are absorbed into the body through skin contact. If a chemical is readily absorbed into the skin, then the notation "skin" will appear along with the occupational exposure limits on the MSDS. Corrosive chemicals can cause burns and tissue destruction. Extra care must be taken to prevent skin and eye contact with these chemicals. This is why wearing aprons, gloves, eye protection, and other protective clothing is important when working with some chemicals.


It is possible to accidentally eat chemicals that are health hazards. To insure that you do not accidentally eat any of the chemicals you work with:
1.  Never eat foods in areas where chemicals are used.
2. Never smoke in areas were chemicals are used.
3. Wash your hands and face with soap and water after working with chemicals before you eat, drink, or smoke.

The three ways a chemical can enter the body are ingestion, skin absorption, and inhalation.

  • True
  • False

Major types of health hazards

Any chemical that may be harmful to your health is called a health hazard. The following is a brief description of the major types of health hazards.

Corrosives - cause tissue damage and burns on contact with the skin and eyes.

Primary Irritants - cause intense redness or swelling of the skin or eyes on contact, but with no permanent tissue damage.

Sensitizers - cause an allergic skin or lung reaction.

Acutely Toxic Materials - cause an adverse effect, even at a very low dose.

Carcinogens - may cause cancer.

Teratogens - may cause birth defects.

Organ Specific Hazards - may cause damage to specific organ systems, such as the blood, liver, lungs, or reproductive system.

Which of the following is NOT a health hazard?

  • Primary Irritant
  • Combustible
  • Organ Specific Hazard
  • Storm Troopers

Health Hazard Symbols

The Skull and Crossbones is a symbol that has been used for centuries. Today it is used to identify hazardous materials which are poisonous.

The Medical symbol is a general symbol used to identify materials which are health hazards.

This symbol is used to identify materials which are Corrosives. Corrosives cause tissue damage and burns on contact with skin or eyes.

This symbol is used to identify materials which are Radioactive.

This symbol is used to identify hazardous Biological materials.

Working with health hazards

As with materials that are physical hazards, be sure to read all warning labels and the MSDSs that provide information concerning the health hazards you work with.

Protective Measures

Controlling Physical and Health Hazards

There are a number of ways that you can safeguard your health and physical safety when using hazardous materials. These measures include:

          • * Product Substitution
            * Engineering Controls
            * Safe Work Practices
            * Personal Protective Equipment
            * Training and Communication
            * Environmental Monitoring
            * Personal Monitoring

Product substitution

Because many chemicals do similar jobs, it is important to select chemicals that do a good job, while being less toxic.


Engineering Controls

ell designed work areas minimize exposure to materials which are hazardous. Examples of engineering controls would include exhaust systems and wetting systems to control dust.

Safe Work Practices

Safe work practices will insure that chemicals are used correctly and safely.


Masks, eye protection, gloves, aprons, and other protective equipment and clothing are designed to protect you while you work.  USE THEM!

Training and Communication

Knowing how to work safely with chemicals that pose a hazard is an important activity. This is the reason for this training, bulletin boards in the plant, safety meetings, MSDSs, and various bulletins. You have a right to know, but you also have a responsibility to use the knowledge and skills to work safely.

Environmental Monitoring

Industrial hygiene personnel regularly sample the air and collect other samples to insure that hazardous chemicals do not exceed established acceptable exposure limits.

Personal Monitoring

Monitor yourself and others. Be on the lookout for any physical symptoms which would indicate that you or your coworkers have been overexposed to any hazardous chemical. Symptoms, such as skin rashes, dizziness, eye or throat irritations or strong odors, should be reported to your supervisor.

What protective measures will insure that safe exposure limits are not exceeded?

  • Product Substitution
  • Safe Work Practices
  • Training and Communication
  • All of the above