Handling Hazardous Materials

Handling Hazardous Materials

Over the years, technicians have generally taken the variety of chemicals and chemical byproducts in their workplace for granted. While it is easy to view efforts at controlling these substances as regulatory meddling, these materials can pose risks to workers’ health and safety. They may cause skin and eye irritation or more serious conditions like respiratory issues, neurological damage or cancer.

Hazardous materials are defined in regulations as ignitable, reactive, corrosive or toxic. Their defining characteristics include the following:

  1. Ignitable materials have a flash point below 40 degrees F or ignite spontaneously or by friction.
  2. Corrosive materials have a pH below 2.5 or above 12.5 and corrode steel at a rate of .250 in. or more per year at a temperature of 128 degrees F.
  3. Reactive materials are unstable, change violently, form explosive mixtures or generate toxic fumes.
  4. Toxic materials are poison if ingested or inhaled or are carcinogenic.

Information describing the contents, hazards, and first aid is included in Safety Data Sheets or SDSs. If you are uncertain of the products content or are considering using a new product, check the information contained in the SDSs. They are available on Goodson’s website under the Tech Support tab.

While forms vary, the primary sections of an SDS contain the following:

Section 1 - General Information

Who makes the product and their address, emergency phone number, trade name and the product formula (unless proprietary).

Section 2 - Hazardous Ingredients

Chemical identification of components and exposure limit guidelines.

Section 3 - Physical Data

Appearance and odor under normal conditions, specific gravity, boiling point, vapor pressure, vapor density and evaporation rate.

Section 4 - Fire and Explosion Data

Indicates what kind of fire extinguishers to use, the flash point, special firefighting procedures and any special dangers.

Section 5 - Reactivity Data

What the chemicals react with and, if they do react, what might happen. It also tells what situations to avoid so there are no unexpected chemical reactions.

 Section 6 - Health Hazard Data

How the chemical can enter the body through inhalation, eyes, or skin contact and what symptoms might exist. This section also gives emergency first aid procedures.

Section 7 - Spill or Leak Procedure

Includes what to do if there is a spill or leak, equipment and procedure for cleaning up the spill, method of disposal/special precautions.

Section 8 - Special Protection

Safety measures for adequate protection such as a respirator, gloves, ventilation, eye protection, or protective clothing for safe handling of different chemicals.

Section 9 - Special Precautions Transport and Handling

Special handling requirements in relation to temperature, open spark humidity and special containers.

These regulations encourage business and industry to reduce worker and environmental exposure to hazardous materials. Remember, safe operations are attainable with proper risk management and precautions.


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