Addressing the Risks Associated with Highly Hazardous Chemicals
When it comes to keeping a facility safe, there are few things that are more important than addressing the risks associated with highly hazardous chemicals. When accidents occur with these types of chemicals it can cause widespread injury or even fatalities.
OSHA addresses the specific risks associated with this type of chemical in section 1910.119 of their regulations, under the title, “Process safety management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals.” This section lists the requirements that both the employers and the employees must follow in order to remain in compliance.
Reviewing the Standard
If you’re operating any type of facility that uses any dangerous chemicals, it is important to take the time to review this OSHA standard to ensure you are following it if necessary. There are dozens of different chemicals that qualify as highly hazardous, some of which may surprise you.
It is not as simple, however, as just knowing the list of chemicals that are deemed highly hazardous. This set of standards from OSHA has a number of qualifiers that must be considered, including the following:
- Chemical – There is a large list of chemicals that may be considered highly hazardous under the right circumstances. The best way to review this set of standards is by seeing if you use any of the chemicals included on the list filed under Appendix A of OSHA standard number 1910.19.
- Quantity – Another factor that goes into determining whether or not your facility is considered to be using highly hazardous chemicals is the amount of each chemical you have. For example, gasoline can be considered highly hazardous, but only if you are storing 10,000+ pounds of it in one location.
- Use – The way the chemical is being used is another factor that OSHA takes into consideration. Propane, for example, is on the list of chemicals that can be highly hazardous, but it does not qualify if it is simply being used as part of your facilities climate control system (a propane fueled furnace, for example).
- Storage – The way chemicals are stored will also be considered. If you have an underground storage tank for gasoline, such as at any gas station, that likely won’t be considered highly hazardous. If you have the same chemical in barrels that are used throughout the facility, on the other hand, it could be highly hazardous.
Taking the time to go through all the chemicals you use in your facility and figuring out which ones are considered highly hazardous is an important first step in ensuring you remain in compliance with the OSHA regulations.
Remember, OSHA will issue citations for any facility that is not following their safety standards, even if you are not aware that you were supposed to. It is always the employer’s responsibility to identify risks associated with chemicals that are used, and stay in compliance with any safety regulations, so take the time to evaluate the chemicals in your area so you can make any necessary changes to stay in compliance.
Labeling Highly Hazardous Chemicals
Once you’ve identified the chemicals that are going to be considered highly hazardous, you will need to label them as such to ensure everyone in the facility is well aware of the risk. Whenever attempting to improve safety in a facility, the first (and most important) step is to make sure everyone is aware of the risks.
The easiest and most effective way to properly label these types of chemicals is by using a LabelTac industrial label printer to create GHS labels to alert people working with or around these chemicals of the potential hazard.
Labels should be applied to the following areas to help ensure everyone is alerted to the fact that these chemicals are being used:
- Storage or Shipping Containers – Applying a GHS label to any storage containers will help ensure they are kept safe and handled with the proper care. If these containers aren’t labeled when they arrive at the facility, this should be the first thing that is done. Print off new labels so they are available as soon as these chemicals arrive.
- Pipes – Chemicals are often transported through pipes in a facility. This is often a very safe way to move the chemicals around, but when it is done, the pipes should be labeled to show what is in them. This is essential to avoid accidental spills or other problems when someone is working on the pipes.
- Machines – Any machines that use these chemicals should be properly labeled letting everyone know that the hazardous chemical is contained within. Applying labels on or near the area where the chemicals are stored within the machine, as well as any other areas where there is a risk of exposure is a good idea.
Printing the Proper Labels
Of course, it is not enough to just print off a label that says something like, “Highly Hazardous Chemicals” and slap them on the container. You will want to follow the GHS labeling standards to ensure all the necessary information is clearly displayed for everyone to see.
The following are the required GHS label elements, all of which can be easily printed using a LabelTec industrial label printer:
- Chemical Identification – The first thing people should see is the name of the chemical, or chemical mixture, that is contained in the item being labeled. In most cases it is good to have the common name as well as the scientific chemical name included on the label.
- Pictograms – There are a number of GHS pictograms that are used to illustrate specific hazards (check them out here). These images can quickly let people know that a chemical is toxic, flammable, explosive or any number of other serious risks.
- Signal Words – Bold words such as “DANGER” or “WARNING” should be included on all GHS labels as well. In many cases there can also be signal numbers, with 1 typically representing a non-lethal chemical and 2 being more severe or potentially lethal.
- Statements – Including hazard statements and precautionary statements is important for these labels. These statements will describe the hazard posed from the chemicals (such as explosive if heated) as well as giving precautions (such as ‘keep away from heat’).
- Other – When necessary, other information can be included on the label. Any information that is deemed important for helping ensure anyone who works with the chemical can remain as safe as possible.
Safety is the #1 Priority
Safety should be the biggest priority for facilities no matter what types of things they are working with. When it comes to highly hazardous chemicals, however, it is even more essential. These types of chemicals have the potential to cause extreme harm to not only the employees in the facility, but also to the people living or working in the area surrounding it.
This is why it is so important to always keep up to date with the relevant OSHA regulations, and ensure your whole facility is following them properly. A lot of time and thought has been put into the OSHA standards, and they are widely considered to be the best way to help keep everyone safe.
If your facility hasn’t recently evaluated how it is using highly hazardous chemicals, and what safety processes are put in place, make sure it is done as soon as possible.