Tuesday, 12 March 2013

The Different Right-to-Know Labels and their Uses

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In 1983, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) created the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) to provide protection to workers who deal with hazardous substances on the job. The HCS is based on the idea that employees have both a need and a Right to Know about the harmful substances used in the workplace. They also need to know the possible effects of these materials on their health and safety.
warning labels 
This standard applies to all businesses that produce and handle hazardous materials. Companies can supply the hazmat information in three ways: Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), training, or container labeling.

The OSHA requires that all containers storing hazardous chemicals be labeled, marked or tagged with the product name, the appropriate physical and health warning of the chemical, and the manufacturer name and address. The HCS standard also calls for all labels are legible and in English. These Right To Know (RTK) labels may also contain more details like proper handling and the safety measures to take in case of a spill. It can also contain information on the use, storing and disposing of these harmful materials.

There are many types of Right To Know labels that informs personnel of chemical hazards in their workplace. They include:

     National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Diamond. Each label contains information on the type and level of hazard of a chemical. This diamond-shaped label features a color-coded system with four sections. Numbers are used to signal the degree of emergency and are located in the upper three colored sections: blue for health hazard, red for fire hazard, and yellow for reactivity hazard.

The bottom section contains information on water reactivity, biohazards, radioactivity, and other special hazards. Each emergency hazard is measured on a numerical scale of 0 to 4, with 0 being a no hazard, to 4, which an extreme hazard.

The NFPA diamond is best used for alerting workers to the chemical’s degree of hazard. It also aids in identifying storage needs and emergency equipment. It is used mainly by emergency response personnel and for emergency planning. This label is not an ideal indicator of occupational hazards or preventive information.

     Hazardous Materials Labeling System (HMLS). This type of label has the same function as that of the NFPA diamond. It also uses colors to indicate the type and level of hazard of a particular chemical. But instead of a diamond shape, they are laid out in a vertical row.

This label is used on individual containers of hazardous material, such as bottles, barrels, buckets, cans and tubs, to ensure all types of storage in the workplace are labeled.

     Department of Transportation (DOT) Hazard Labeling System. This label also utilizes a color-coded diamond shape design, but it contains a symbol and wording that describes the major hazard of the material. These dangers include gases, explosives, flammable liquids, oxidizers, poisons, corrosives and radioactive materials. Most of these chemicals are rated by the DOT, and are used for transportation of hazardous materials.

     ANSI Z129.1 Label.  This type of label was developed by the Chemical Manufacturers Association (CMA) and the American Conference on Chemical Labeling. It was later included as a standard by the America National Standards Institute (ANSI).

This warning label contains the identity of the chemical, a signal word such as DANGER or WARNING, the main hazard of the substance, and statements of precautions to avoid the hazard.

     Uniform Laboratory Hazard Signage (ULHS) System. This type of label identifies the location where hazardous substances are stored or used using pictograph symbols.

Right To Know labels are an essential part of any Hazcom program. They serve as an immediate visual warning of any chemical hazards in your facility. It is important that hazcom labels are displayed clearly, written legibly in English, and must contain all vital safety information for workers.

About the Author : Maria MarnelliG. Medina is a writer who loves to read, draw and paint about anything under the sun. These days she is writing about anything related to Signs and Safety. You can find more of her stuff here.


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