Chemical Hazard Classifications

Health Hazards are those that can affect the immediate or long term health of an employee if exposed to a specific chemical.  Acute effects of exposure are those that present symptoms when exposure occurs, such as when skin is exposed to an acid.  Delayed or long term health effects can also occur from chemical exposure, such as cancer.  Health effects for any given chemical will depend on the toxicity, duration of exposure and amount of exposure.
Fire Hazard ratings range from non-flammable to highly flammable.  The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) ratings are based on the material flashpoint - the temperature at which the chemical vapors will ignite.
Reactivity ratings describe the hazards of the material stability - some chemicals will explode or react violently if exposed to heat or shock
Other Hazards - special markings are required if the material is radioactive, an oxidizer, acid or base or will react when exposed to other materials.
Hazard Controls include:
  • Labeling of all chemicals
  • Proper chemical storage containers & areas
  • Segregation of incompatible chemicals
  • Personal Protective Equipment
  • Use of chemicals by training and authorized employees
  • Use of minimum amount necessary
  • Bonding & Grounding of flammable liquid containers
Chemical manufacturers, importers, and distributors of hazardous chemicals are all required to provide the appropriate labels and material safety data sheets to the employers to which they ship the chemicals. The information is to be provided automatically. Every container of hazardous chemicals must be labeled, tagged, or marked with the required information.
Suppliers must provide end users a properly completed material safety data sheet (MSDS) at the time of the first shipment of the chemical, and with the next shipment after the MSDS is updated with new and significant information about the hazards.
Employers that use or store hazardous chemicals must have a program to ensure the information is provided to exposed employees.

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