NC OSHA has adopted the "Safety and Health hazard communication Standard" for workplace chemicals and gases. The basic provisions in the Standard require chemical manufacturers to evaluate the hazards presented by the chemicals they produce and to provide safety information to employers who purchase the products. Employers are required to maintain the information provided and establish an internal "hazard communication" program to insure that employees are informed of the hazards and the measures necessary to protect themselves from any harmful exposure which may result from using the chemicals.
This program applies to any chemical which is used by Western Carolina University employees, except as follows:
- Wood products
- Drugs or cosmetics for personal use
- Consumer products (subject to the Consumer Product Safety Act) less than 5 gallons or 50 pounds so long as employee exposure is not greater than ordinary consumer use.
- Hazardous wastes subject to Environmental Protection Agency regulations.
The University Safety Officer is responsible for overall management and coordination of the program.
University departments who use chemicals are responsible for:
- Providing the Safety Officer with information on existing chemicals used and chemicals purchased.
- Forwarding to the Safety Officer Material Safety Data Sheets received.
- Assuring that chemical containers are clearly labeled.
- Employee attendance at chemical safety training sessions.
Hazardous Chemical List
A list of the hazardous chemicals used or stored in the workplace is to be available to employees of each department. The Safety Officer maintains a list of chemicals based on an annual survey of each department. When new chemicals are introduced, the chemical list must be updated before the chemical is used in the workplace. To accomplish this, the Purchasing Department furnishes a copy of purchase requisitions for chemicals to the Safety Officer.
NOTE: Laboratories are not required to keep a list of chemicals.
Maintenance of Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)
Chemical manufacturers are required to provide MSDS's for all chemicals sold to Western Carolina University. The MSDS's provide essential safety and health information on the chemical and must be maintained in the University's files so that they are accessible to employees.
The University Safety Officer is responsible for collecting and distributing MSDS's. MSDS's are maintained on file in the University Safety & Risk Management Office or the using Departmental Office. MSDS's may be reviewed by employees who use chemicals by contacting the Safety Officer at extension 7443 or by contacting their Department Office.
Chemical manufacturers must provide labels on chemical containers which provide the identity of the hazardous chemicals(s), the appropriate hazard warnings and the name and address of the manufacturer. These labels are to be maintained in legible condition at all times.
For "in house" containers and tanks owned by the University, the Hazardous Materials Identification System (HMIS) is used. The HMIS labeling system uses both numerical and lettering system to identify the hazard(s) and recommend protective equipment. HMIS labels do not necessarily warn about every hazard listed in the MSDS. The hazards highlighted on the labels reflect some assessment of the weight of the severity regarding each hazard reported.
The Safety Officer will coordinate labeling of containers and is to be contacted when any label is not readable, missing, etc.
Portable containers, into which hazardous chemicals are transferred from labeled containers, are not required to be labeled if the portable container is to be used only by the employee making the transfer.
All employees who use chemicals are required to attend a Hazard Communication Training Program. In laboratory departments each faculty member responsible for a laboratory unit is responsible for providing training for employees within their laboratory unit. The Safety Officer will schedule and provide this program for staff departments. Employees are only required to attend one program unless (a) a new hazard is introduced into the work/place or (b) the employee transfers into a unit where different chemical hazards exist. In these cases updated training is required.\
When new employees are hired, training is to be done at the time of the initial employment. University Departments are responsible for providing the Safety Officer with the names of new employees who use chemicals so that hazard communication training can be arranged.
Hazardous chemical safety training is to include at least the following information:
- Interpreting information on labels and MSDS's.
- Location of hazardous materials in the workplace.
- Location and availability of material safety data sheets.
- Acute and chronic effects of chemicals.
- Safe handling procedures.
- Personal protective equipment
- Methods used to detect leaks and releases
- Spill clean up and emergency procedures.
Attendance records for each training session must be documented and forwarded to the Safety Officer.
Non-Routine Task/Outside Contractors
All jobs or projects involving hazardous chemicals, that are being done for the first time, shall be considered a "non-routine" task and shall be reviewed by the University Safety Officer prior to starting work.
When outside contractors come to the University, they also must be informed of the hazards they may encounter on campus. Contractors working near where chemicals are stored or used are to be informed before beginning their work of the chemical hazards present and are encouraged to ask responsible University faculty, staff or the Safety Officer about these potential hazards.
Contractors that bring hazardous chemicals on campus must maintain a list of hazardous chemicals and material safety data sheets to which the University has access. Questions regarding hazardous chemicals used by contractors should be directed to the Safety Officer.