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Hazardous Communication

posted Dec 21, 2009, 10:22 AM by David Wright   [ updated Dec 21, 2009, 10:26 AM ]

In 1984, an industrial disaster happened at a Union Carbide plant in Bophal, India.  This tragedy took the lives of 3000 people.  This event resulted in the Federal Government passing what is known as the OSHA Hazard Communication laws, or more commonly known as “Right to Know”.

This program comes in several topics, such as Community Right to Know, Employee Right to Know, and container labeling.  This training will address Employee Right to Know and container labeling.

Employee Right to Know means that as an employee, you have the right to know the safety information that is applicable to the products and chemicals used and stored at your place of employment.  This information is made available to you in the form of an MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet), which is the safety data of a material.  These can be found at the MSDS Book, which are located at various places around the shop and in each site trailer.  Your supervisor can show you where your sites MSDS’s books or help you obtain a specific MSDS.


Each MSDS sheet contains 9 sections:

1)      Product identification.  It tells you who makes it and the products name.

2)      The chemical ingredients.

3)      The physical & chemical properties, such as the specific gravity, boiling point, appearance and odor, and melting point.

4)      The fire and explosion data, such as what type of extinguisher to use, and the flash point.  Any flashpoints less than 115 degrees are considered flammable.

5)      The protective precaution.  This is where you find the personal protective equipment needed to work safely with the product.

6)      The health hazards associated with the product and the first aid procedures in case you are over exposed to the product.

7)      The reactivity data.  This is whether the product will react with other materials to cause a fire, explosion, or gas.  This tells you what not to mix it with.

8)      How to store the product.

9)      The transportation procedures.


It is our policy to always read the MSDS sheet information prior to using a new product, or before using a product that you have never used before.  Knowing and using the information contained within the MSDS ahead of time can prevent you from being injured.


There are two kinds of containers, permanent and temporary.  A permanent container comes from a manufacturer, and has a label on it that gives you information on the product.  A temporary container is an un-marked container.  Temporary containers are illegal.  All containers in the workplace must be labeled.  If you see a container, including drums and storage tanks that are not labeled, contact your supervisor so it can be labeled.