MCC Hazardous Materials handling & communication plans are in accordance with The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality's mission, which is to protect and enhance public health, welfare and the environment in Arizona. ADEQ today administers a variety of programs to improve the health and welfare of our citizens and ensure the quality of Arizona's air, land and water resources meet healthful, regulatory standards.
Chemical Information Lists (CIL) and Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) are the key sources to determine which substances are in the work place and how to avoid exposure to hazardous substances. CIL's and MSDS's are available from your department and the Hazard Communication section of the Environmental Policy Section of the Hazardous Materials Protocols adopted by the US Department of Labor.
Exposure: How Much, How Often and How Long?
Chemicals greatly vary in their toxicity, but three factors: the amount, the frequency, and the duration, of exposure must always be considered. If you are exposed to a hazardous chemical, you can expect one of two kinds of reactions: local or systemic reactions.
Local reactions occur at the place where the exposure occurred-for example, skin, eyes or lungs-and may range from minor irritation to severe tissue damage. Breathing dangerous chemical vapors may injure lungs and respiratory passages, while swallowing such chemicals can damage your mouth, esophagus, stomach and intestines.
Systemic reactions occur when chemicals enter the blood through the skin, eyes, mouth or, most frequently, the lungs, certain organs, or your entire body can be damaged. Systemic reactions can be immediate but often are delayed: You don’t know they are happening until they have done severe damage.
If you store or move containers of hazardous chemicals in your job, you need to be aware of the dangers of incompatible chemicals, meaning those chemicals that can react together to create toxic smoke, gas, heat, fire or explosion. Many groups of chemicals are incompatible with other chemicals used in industry.
When making decisions about storing chemicals, follow your company’s chemical storage plan or refer to label warnings and MSDS information on compatibility. Don't assume that a chemical is safe because it doesn't seem to be an oxidizer or a flammable or an acid or a base. Store chemicals in their appropriate containers, under proper conditions. Only then can you be confident that you have stored a chemical correctly.
If a spill occurs, try to avoid touching it, walking in it, or breathing it, whether it has an odor or not. Report a spill or leak immediately. Be prepared to tell what is leaking or spilled, where it is, the size of the spill or the leak's rate of flow. Unless you are on the Chemical Spill Response Team, you may be asked to evacuate the immediate area.
General spill response may include:
securing a valve, closing a pump, plugging a hole in a leaking container or shifting a container to stop the flow. A barrel may be placed under the leak, or the leaking container may be placed in a larger container or a bag. There may also be an attempt to keep the spill from spreading, putting dikes around drains or reactive chemicals. Once the spill is under control, workers can use a variety of cleanup methods. Absorbent pillows, pads or substances such as clay and vermiculite absorb small spills. Workers may use a vacuum truck or a specially designed squeegee to move the spill to a chemical drain or to special drums for disposal. See OSHA's Hazardous & Toxic Substances for more information.
To protect yourself from unexpected injury from a hazardous chemical, refer to the MSDS for that chemical. It will list the signs and symptoms of chemical toxicity for both local and systemic reactions as well as the target organs and primary routes of entry. Always use personal protective equipment and follow safety guidelines appropriate for the chemical. And avoid relying on your memory or tips from co-workers: Review the MSDS whenever you have the slightest doubt about the hazards of any chemical.
Remember to always read the label. Every time.
When health and safety are at stake, it pays to double-check. Although you may have used the same chemical many times, the manufacturer may have changed the formula, or provided the wrong concentration. Avoid identifying chemicals by the label's color or design. If the label raises any questions in your mind about the appropriateness of your environment and protective equipment to deal with the hazardous chemical, check department policy or consult your supervisor before using the chemical.
Taking responsibility for knowing the contents of chemical containers protects not only you, but also every other employee at your place of work.