Monthly Round Up of Important Ideas and Standards in
Industrial Hygiene and Safety
IN THIS ISSUE: Warning Labels Help Prevent Accidents
By law, warning labels are required on all containers of hazardous chemicals in the workplace. These labels provide employees with quick and vital information needed to use chemicals safely. Warning labels give the name of the chemical, manufacturer information, the chemical code number, hazards the chemical presents, and any other safety requirements.
“The bottom line is simple: warning labels prevent accidents,” explains Gary R. Ticker, CIH, CSP, of OccuSafe, Inc, “While emergency plans, effective and ongoing training, and personal protective equipment are all vital to employee safety, warning labels provide immediate information to remind the employee how to use the chemical safely.”
Warning labels are not a replacement for other safety requirements, but they are necessary to protect employees who use hazardous chemicals. To ensure warning labels are utilized, employers should
take these steps:
- Label All Hazardous Chemicals. Every container, regardless of size, must be clearly labeled. Many containers that come into the workplace may already contain a label, but when chemicals are transferred or an existing label is destroyed, a new one is needed. Labels are available for various applications and for use in harsh environments. They can be pre-printed for a specific chemical or allow information to be added. There are also computer programs that can be used to create customized labels.
- Understand Warning Labels. There are two systems of labels that are readily available: 1) the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) diamond label and 2) the Hazardous Material Identification System (HMIS) label. The diamond label is divided in four sections: blue for health, red for fire, yellow for reactivity, and white for additional information. Each section is rated 0 to 4, with 0 for little or no hazard and 4 for severe. The HMIS uses the same scale for health, flammability, and physical hazard. It also indicates if any personal protective equipment is required.
- Read the Label Every Time. Train employees how to read and use labels. Warnings should be changed whenever there is a change in a chemical’s formula or concentration. Keeping labels updated is vital, and making sure employees frequently check and recheck for changes reinforces safe use of hazardous chemicals.
OccuSafe Industrial Hygiene & Safety, Inc. provides skills and expertise to recognize, evaluate and control hazards and injuries in the areas of industrial hygiene, occupational safety and health. OccuSafe services companies of all sizes in a range of industries.
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