It's time to review your safety programs

It's Time to Review Your Safety Programs By Fred Workley March 1999 Fred Workley is the president of Workley Aircraft and Maintenance Inc. in Manassas, VA. He is on the technical committees of PAMA and NATA and participates in several...


Physical data includes: percentage of volatile components, odor, appearance, boiling point, specific gravity, vapor pressure and density, evaporation rate, and solubility in water. Also included is information regarding the stability of the chemical, how it reacts, and the extent of reaction with other chemicals and compounds, along with instructions to prevent an unexpected and unwanted chemical reaction.

MSDS also include information on fire prevention and fighting. Explosion and fire data includes: fire extinguishers to use and their media, the temperature at which the chemical ignites (flash point), any unusual fire hazards or unique dangers, special fire fighting procedures, and chemical flammability limits by volume. Any spill or leak procedure will be identified. All equipment needed in clean up and any special precautions — including methods for disposal, will be clearly defined. Also, any special precautions for handling will be listed. Safe handling of hazardous chemicals may require protective clothing, gloves, respirators, eye protection, and ventilation information.

The Hazard Communications Standard also requires that all containers that are used in a work area be labeled with special precautions identified with either words or descriptive symbols. Some chemicals require special storage precautions like refrigeration and explosion proof cabinets.

The one exception is a portable container for use immediately by the person transferring the chemical. Everyone must have training in reading the labels and understand what those labels mean. The label should identify the chemical, hazard severity, health hazards, and any required protective clothing or equipment.

The most common labels are the color bar type label and the NFPA type panel label (National Fire Protection Agency). Understanding the meaning of labels can avoid serious accidents. Always follow the directions and precautions to ensure safe handling of all chemicals. Investigate all chemicals that lack labels and don't mix chemicals that you have not positively identified. The end result may be a big "surprise."

Everyone has the "Right to Know" regarding hazardous materials in the workplace. Following instructions and warnings exhibited in the Hazard Communication Standard and on Material Safety Data Sheets will avoid surprises that could prove harmful to equipment and personnel.

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