Where do you get information on hazardous chemicals?

Today’s Whiteboard Session is about where you can get information on hazardous chemicals.

There is basically two ways you can get information on hazardous chemicals...

1. Hazardous Chemicals Label 

2. Safety Data Sheets  


If you are using the hazardous chemical label to find the infoirmation you need, this will be located on containers or bottles of hazardous chemicals.

What sort of information does that include?

It will include things like what the substance is, the name of it, whether it’s a flammable liquid, the United Nations number which is a number that is used throughout the world to indicate what type that chemical is. 

It will also include things like how much is in there, 4 Litres for example in this one and it will give you things like danger or signal words.  It will give you the GHS (Globally Harmonised System) pictorial.  In this particular case for this substance it’s a flammable and a toxic substance so it is going to affect the body.

Coming further down we have things like precautionary statements: - In case of fire we use powder for extinctions, so gives us some fire fighting information.  If on the skin take off the contaminated clothing, so it gives us first aid information.  Down the bottom it will give us details of the company and also whether or not there is a safety data sheet available.


A safety data sheet is a second type of information you can get.

I’m not going to go through a detailed safety data sheet today but I want to go through some of the information you might get on it.

First of all it identifies what the material is, now I should have mentioned earlier that you get the safety data sheet from a supplier, an importer or a manufacturer.  They should provide it to you when you first get the substance, unfortunately doesn’t always happen, but if it doesn’t happen you need to get onto the supplier to make sure you have the safety data sheet.

As I said it gives you identification of the material and supplier and then it gives some hazard identification, it will give you the GHS classifications, some pictographs about what the substance is and what you need to do to manage it in your workplace. 

It goes on then to give you some composition and information on ingredients – what’s actually in it, what are the chemicals that are in it?  It will not necessarily give you the exact proportions as some of those are secret to the manufacturing or to the substance, but it will give you some basic information about what substances are in there.

It gives you first aid measures, in other words what do we do if we get it in our eye, if we inhale, if it gets onto our skin.  It will tell us the response we will have in relation to that substance.

Fire fighting measures do we use water on it, if there’s a spill do we actually contain it or do we dilute it and if there’s a fire what sort of fire extinguisher do we use on it. 

Any details for accident and release measures, any special handling and storage information for example substances that you should not store it with because they may react together which could cause a fire or explosion.

Exposure controls and personal protective equipment.  The exposure controls are the level in which somebody can be exposed to, that is done by the occupational hygienest and it will give you certain levels.  It will also give you what sort of personal protective equipment you should be using and the type of PPE.

The physical and chemical properties. 

The stability and reactivity of the substance, is it stable will it react with other substances?

Any toxicological information or ecological information.

How you should dispose of the substance.  Dispose both the container and any residue you might have.

Transport information, how it should be transported on vehicles etc.

Any regulatory information that is applicable to it.

The ones that I think are really important, that you need to assess when you are actually are going to use a hazardous chemical are things like what the hazard identification is, so you need to look at the GHS codes. 

We need to know what the first aid measures are, what do we do if somebody gets it in their eye, inhales or ingests it.

The handling and storage and the PPE.  All the other information is very very important but if we are using the substance in the workplace, we need to know how we are going to make sure that people are not going to be exposed to that particular substance.

That’s all I have on safety data sheets, you need to get them for all of your hazardous chemicals in your workplace and you need to read the information.

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