CHEMICAL HAZARDS & HAZARD COMMUNICATION
It is important to know about the products and chemicals you are working with so you can protect yourself from overexposure and know procedures to take in the event of an emergency. The Oklahoma Hazard Communication Standard provides the following methods to identify potential chemical hazards.
Read everything on the label; it is there for a reason. Information found on a label includes:
Every container in the work area must be labeled with the chemical or product name, the chemical constituents of the product, and an appropriate hazard warning. All containers should be labeled with this information upon receipt from a vendor - if they are not, contact your instructor or the EHSO to determine why or what can be done. Labels on containers should not be defaced or removed while the chemical is still in the container.
If a chemical has a damaged or missing label, alert your instructor so that appropriate labeling can occur.
Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs)
Manufacturers are required to submit material safety data sheets (MSDSs) for products sold to the University. MSDSs contain detailed information about the hazards of the chemical. MSDSs also contain a 24-hour emergency number should additional information be required.
An MSDS should be available for every hazardous chemical present in the work area. If one is not available, ask your instructor or contact the Environmental Health and Safety Office (EHSO) at 271-3000.
National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Diamond
The NFPA Diamond is a symbol system designed for facilities to inform emergency responders of the types and quantities of hazardous materials stored or used in a facility. Three of the four diamonds provide a rating of the hazards in health (blue), flammability (red), and reactivity (yellow). The rating is from 0 (least hazardous) to 4 (most hazardous). The fourth diamond (white) provides special information such as radioactivity or water reactivity.
Basic laboratory safety rules are as follows.
1. No running, jumping, or horseplay is permitted in laboratories.
Additional laboratory safety guidelines are found in the OUHSC/OU-Tulsa Laboratory Safety Manual, a copy of which is present in every laboratory.
OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogen regulation covers employees with occupational exposure to human blood or other potentially infectious material, including human tissues and human cell lines used in laboratory procedures.
While the regulation does not cover students unless they are paid, students should follow the precautions outlined by the regulation to ensure protection from potentially infectious materials. These precautions include the following.
1. Universal precautions should be observed to prevent contact with human blood or other potentially infectious material. Universal precautions, as developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), states that all human blood and certain body fluids should be treated as if infectious for hepatitis B, HIV, and/or other bloodborne pathogens.
4. All garments should be removed as soon as possible if penetrated by blood or other potentially infectious material. Do not take them home to wash them. Notify your instructor if contamination occurs.
PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT
Eye protection is required whenever there is the potential for flying particles or splash of a hazardous or infectious material. This applies not only to persons who work continuously in these areas, but also to persons who may be in the area only temporarily.
The type of eye protection required depends on the hazard. Regular eyeglasses are not sufficient. For most situations, safety glasses with side shields are adequate. Other additional protective devices should be used in the following situations.
If chemical vapors or liquids contact the eyes, these steps should be followed:
After use, eye protection equipment should be cleaned prior to reuse.
Unless the worker is wearing a laboratory coat, loose or torn clothing should be avoided due to the potential for ignitability, absorption, and entanglement in machinery. Remove dangling jewelry and pull back excessively long hair, which can pose the same type of safety hazard. Finger rings or other tight jewelry which cannot be easily removed should be avoided because of the danger of corrosive or irritating liquids getting underneath the piece and producing irritation. Rings can also puncture gloves.
Laboratory coats should be worn when working with hazardous or infectious materials. Laboratory coats worn in the laboratory area for protection against hazardous or infectious material should not be worn outside the laboratory (this is especially true of cadaver laboratories).
Shoes must be worn at all times when working with hazardous or infectious materials. Sandals, open-toed shoes, and perforated shoes should not be worn because of the danger of spillage of corrosive or irritating chemicals and the potential of cuts from broken glassware.
Protective gloves must be worn when a potential skin exposure exists or where there is a potential for accidental spills or contamination. There is no glove currently available that will protect against all chemicals. Read the label, MSDS, or literature provided by glove manufacturers to select the proper glove.
General recommendations are as follows.
Gloves should be inspected before each use for discoloration, punctures, and tears. Before removal, non-disposable gloves should be thoroughly washed, either with tap water or soap and water. Contaminated gloves should be removed in such a manner as to limit contamination of the hands from the soiled gloves. Hands should always be washed after removal of gloves, regardless of whether they have obvious contamination. Always remove gloves before leaving the immediate work site to prevent contamination of door knobs, light switches, telephones, etc.
The use of N-95 respirators is required when in the presence of known or suspected tuberculosis patients (surgical masks are not acceptable). Most hospitals and clinics provide disposable respirators for this purpose.
Particulate respirators should be used when dust is generated, such as during grinding operations. Respirator use for chemical exposures is usually not required if adequate precautions are taken.
Please contact the EHSO at 405/271-3000 (Oklahoma City) or 918/660-3878 (Tulsa) if you are asked to wear a respirator. Fit testing the respirator and special training is required if respirators are worn.
There are five different types of fires:
Most of the fire extinguishers on our campus are ABC, which can be used on any of the above types of fires except Type D.
Do not use a water fire extinguisher on a Type C (electrical) fire.
In the event of a fire, immediately call OUHSC Police at 405/271-4911 (Oklahoma City) or 911 (all other locations). Use stairwells, not elevators, to exit buildings.
If you choose to use a fire extinguisher, remember PASS:
Do not aim the fire extinguisher directly onto the source, as it may spread the flames. Begin approximately 8-10 feet away from the flames.
Do not prop fire doors or fire exits open. In the event of a fire or fire alarm, fire doors will automatically close or unlock depending on their purpose. After the alarm is over, magnetically released fire doors will have to be manually re-opened.
Be safe! Know in advance the following:
Safety showers are designed to flood the entire body in the event of a clothing fire or a major spill of hazardous liquid. In either case, the victim should stand under the shower and activate the shower by pulling on the handle. In the case of a hazardous liquid spill, remove that portion of the clothing affected to reduce potential contact while under the shower. To stop the flow of water, push the handle back up.
After using the safety shower, notify your instructor or laboratory supervisor as soon as possible and obtain medical care immediately.
Do not attempt to test safety showers, as no drains are provided. The EHSO tests them annually.
If a chemical splash in the eyes occurs, use the nearest eyewash fountain for immediate and thorough washing of the eyes. Push the handle down or use the foot pedal, then use your hands to open the eyelids to ensure thorough flushing. Always flood the eyes for at least 15 minutes to be sure there is no residue of the chemical. To stop the flow of water, pull the handle back or pull the foot pedal up. After thorough washing, notify your instructor or laboratory supervisor and obtain medical care immediately, even if there appears to be no damage.
If a drain is provided, eyewash fountains should be flushed frequently.
Spills should be reported to your instructor and cleaned immediately. Never assume gases or vapors do not exist or are harmless because of lack of smell.
Minor Chemical Spills
As a general rule, spills of 4 liters or less are considered a minor spill, depending on the chemical(s) involved. These spills can be safely addressed by knowledgeable laboratory personnel.
General procedures are as follows.
1. Know the locations of the emergency shower and eyewash ahead of time.
Major Chemical Spills
In general, spills of greater than 4 liters or spills of highly toxic, reactive, or flammable materials should be considered a major spill. Management of these spills is the responsibility of specially trained and equipped personnel. General procedures are as follows.
1. Know the locations of the emergency shower and eye wash ahead of time.
Mercury vapors are odorless, colorless, and tasteless. A quantity as small as 1 milliliter can evaporate over time and potentially raise levels in excess of allowable limits. Mercury is also absorbed through the skin readily. Mercury poisoning from long-term exposure can cause health effects such as emotional disturbances, fatigue, memory loss, and headaches. Therefore, mercury spills should be reported to your instructor immediately.
If mercury has been spilled on the floor, take extra precaution to not step in the area. Mercury can absorb into leather readily and be a potential source of long-term exposure to the wearer.
Universal precautions should be used when responding to emergencies which provide potential exposure to blood and other potentially infectious materials (see Bloodborne Pathogens, above).
The use of personal protective equipment (i.e., gloves, masks, and protective clothing) will provide a barrier between the responder and the exposure source.
After emergency care has been administered, wash hands and other skin surfaces immediately and thoroughly with warm water and soap. Hands should always be washed after gloves are removed, even if the gloves appear to be intact.
If blood is splashed onto the unprotected skin or mucous membranes of persons other than the victim, wash the area with soap and water or flush the mucous membranes thoroughly. Immediately after washing or flushing, notify your instructor and obtain medical assistance.
After an emergency that involves blood is over, clean-up of blood may be required. Cleaning of blood spills should be limited to those persons who are trained for the task. Do not assume that housekeeping personnel will clean up the spill. Notify the OUHSC Police at 405/271-4911 (Oklahoma City) or Campus Security at (918) 660-3333 (Tulsa) to report the situation and they will assess the response needed.
If an untrained person encounters a bloody spill, limit access to the area and immediately call the OUHSC Police at 405/271-4911 (Oklahoma City) or Campus Security at (918) 660-3333 (Tulsa).
Procedures to follow in the event of an animal bite are as follows.
1. While wearing gloves, carefully express the wound and apply gentle pressure around the wound to encourage bleeding.
HAZARDOUS WASTE DISPOSAL
Under no circumstance is any person to dispose of a hazardous substance down the drain or in the trash without prior approval from the EHSO. Drain disposal is allowed only for the following substances:
Waste chemicals should be collected in separate containers segregated by categories so that spills or leaks would remain isolated from other wastes or chemicals. These categories include but are not necessarily limited to:
If your laboratory or classroom does not have a chemical waste disposal system in place, notify your instructor or contact the EHSO at 271-3000.
BIOMEDICAL WASTE DISPOSAL
All sharps intended for disposal, whether contaminated or not, must be placed in a sharps container which is puncture-resistant, leak-proof on the sides and bottom, and color-coded or labeled with the biohazard symbol. Never clip or recap needles before putting them in the sharps container.
Untreated biomedical waste must be collected in a red bag or other container labeled with the biohazard symbol. Untreated biomedical waste must not be disposed in the regular trash.
DISPOSAL OF BROKEN GLASSWARE
All broken glass requires special handling and disposal procedures to prevent injury to personnel. Inspect all glassware before use. Do not use broken, chipped, starred or badly scratched glassware. If it cannot be repaired, broken glass should be discarded.
There are potentially five types of broken glass that may be disposed in the OU waste stream. All broken glass should be disposed in a manner that will significantly reduce the potential for injury.
Broken glassware that may be contaminated with chemicals, blood, or other potentially infectious materials should not be picked up directly with the hands. It should be cleaned using mechanical means, such as a brush and a dust pan, tongs, or forceps.
All containers used for broken glass disposal should be puncture-resistant containers. A metal or thick plastic can or bucket with a sealing lid is ideal. If glassware is dry, a cardboard box may be used if all seams and edges are sealed or taped. Wet broken glassware should be dried, if possible, before disposal. If broken glass is wet, the cardboard boxes must be lined with one or more puncture-resistant plastic bags and the edges should be taped.
Clearly mark the container in large letters with the words "CLEAN BROKEN GLASS" before discarding in the solid waste stream. Limit quantities to approximately 5 to 10 pounds so that lifting of the box will not create a situation that could cause back injury.
On the Oklahoma City campus, emergency assistance may be obtained by contacting OUHSC Police at 271-4911. At the OU-Tulsa Schusterman Center, contact Campus Security at (918) 660-3333. They will contact the appropriate response parties, such as the Fire Department or EMSA.
All other locations should call 911. Please note that if you call 911 from a campus telephone, you must tell the 911 operator exactly where the emergency is located.
Oklahoma City students with minor injuries, including needlestick exposures (which are recommended to be treated within 1-2 hours of the incident), can be treated between the hours of 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. through Student Health at the OU Family Medicine Center, 900 NE 10th Street, 271-2577. Notify the staff of the injury or needlestick and your student status. No charge will be incurred by the student for services that can be provided in-house.
Tulsa students may contact the Tulsa and Employee Student Health Clinic at 918/619-4565 for Hepatitis B vaccinations, minor injuries, and needlsticks.
After hours, students with needlesticks or other bloodborne exposures should proceed to the nearest emergency room for immediate care (within 1-2 hours of exposure). For all other injuries/illnesses after hours, students may receive treatment at the nearest emergency room or students may choose to see a private physician, but should be advised that these services will not be covered by Student Health.
This file was updated on: 3/19/08 . Any comments or suggestions should be forward to the Environmental Health and Safety Office.
Every effort will be made to update the information contained on these pages as necessary. However, it is the responsibility of the user to determine that he or she is relying on the most current version of any particular information. Any questions about the material should be directed to the referenced office or department.