As a rule, the HCS attempts to minimize the burden of literature search and review while satisfying the need to provide information required to protect employees who are exposed to hazardous chemicals. For this reason, a suggested approach is to go to the most likely sources first to obtain the needed data, and then proceed to additional sources, if necessary. The third step in the hazard determination process is data analysis. The HCS requires that chemical manufacturers and importers conduct a hazard determination to determine whether physical or health hazards exist.
A list of commonly used data sources is provided in Appendix B, although other sources exist and new sources continue to appear online and in print. For new or less commonly used chemicals, there may not be much data available from any of these sources. While the HCS does not require testing, you may choose to test chemicals to determine chemical and physical properties and identify hazards. Testing may be particularly useful for new chemicals, since it may no longer be assumed that the new chemical has the same intrinsic hazards as its components allergy symptoms. In other cases, several hazards may be associated with exposure to a chemical.
However, in many cases, reliable human data are not available, and animal data must be used. The search strategy previously discussed should attempt to obtain human data, animal data, and cell and tissue studies, as well as data on the mechanisms by which a chemical causes toxicity. In some exposure situations, the effects may occur rapidly after a single or short-term exposure ; in other cases, the damage may accumulate after multiple exposures or over a long exposure period, or arise long after earlier exposures .
In some cases, especially for physical hazards, a definition in the HCS establishes the criteria to be followed. For example, if a liquid has a flashpoint below 100ºF, it is by definition a “flammable liquid”. You can look up the flashpoint in a standard reference and accept it at face value. In the event that your company is manufacturing or importing a chemical for which there is no information on the flashpoint, you may choose to determine the flashpoint by laboratory testing, but testing is not required by the HCS. There are numerous sources that could be searched for this information.
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- In many types of workplaces they can include spills on floors, walkways blocked by cords or boxes, falls from heights, machinery with moving parts, confined spaces and electrical hazards such as frayed cords.
- Egonomic safety hazards occur when the type of work, body positions, and working conditions put a strain on your body.
- Safety hazards are unsafe working conditions that that can cause injury, illness, and death.
- They are the hardest to spot since you don’t always immediately notice the strain on your body or the harm that these hazards pose.
For example, ethyl alcohol can cause death when consumed in large amounts at one time, birth defects when consumed for only a few days by a pregnant woman, and cirrhosis of the liver if consumed for several years. OSHA has listed a number of health hazards, some general or systemic (whole-body) effects, and others that are specific to certain organs . Assigning chemicals to discrete health hazard categories is not precise, and several schemes have been proposed. Separation into acute and chronic health hazards is used by the American National Standards Institute in its labeling standard (ANSI Z129.1) and its guidance for preparation of MSDSs (Z400.1-2004). The main difference between acute and chronic is related to duration of exposure and to the rapidity of onset after exposure.
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Examples of chronic effects are cancer and cirrhosis of the liver. A chemical may have the ability to cause both acute and chronic effects.
For example, an identified health hazard for acetic acid, as normally used in industry, is irritation and corrosion . In contrast, exposure to lead may involve a multitude of health hazards, including neurotoxicity, blood effects, cardiovascular and kidney damage, and birth defects. Unguarded moving machinery parts pose a safety hazard as employees can sustain serious injury and fatalities if they were to accidentally come into contact with them. For example, clothes, lanyards, hair or body parts could become entangled in unguarded machinery and can result in bruising, broken bones, loss of limbs, head injuries and death.