Chemical Hygiene Plan

It is the policy of Methodist University to provide as safe a workplace as is possible and practicable for all of its employees. This Chemical Hygiene Plan covers a broad range of aspects regarding the use of chemicals in the workplace, from initial receipt to ultimate disposal, including but not limited to: proper storage, ventilation, usage, Safety data sheets (SDS), use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE’s), hazard information, precautions, special precautions, inspections, employee training, labeling and environmental controls. All employees who handle any chemicals as part of their employment at Methodist University are to be in compliance with this plan.

Chemical Labeling Requirements

Requirements for labeling of chemical containers come from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Hazard Communication and Laboratory Safety standards. All hazardous chemicals are required to be properly labeled (full chemical name) unless they are exempted by this standard.

OSHA either exempts or does require labeling for certain chemicals that are covered under other regulations (they have there own labeling requirements). These chemicals include: pesticides; Toxic Substance Control Act chemicals; Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act chemicals; spirits; consumer products; chemicals regulated under the Department of Agriculture; hazardous waste; tobacco products, wood products; ionizing radiation; biological hazards. OSHA also exempts portable containers (stock solutions) that are intended for the immediate use by the employee performing the transfer.

If chemicals are not exempted or covered under other regulations as indicated above, OSHA then says labels are required for them if they are hazardous chemicals. OSHA defines a hazardous chemical as anything that is a physical or health hazard. Physical hazards are pretty straight forward. They include flammable and combustible liquids, compressed gasses, explosives, organic peroxides, oxidizers, pyrophorics, and water reactives. Health hazards are a little harder to determine, however OSHA indicates they include the following: carcinogens; reproductive toxins; sensitizers; irritants; corrosives; neurotoxins; hapatotoxins; nephrotoxins; agents that act the hematopoitic system; and agents that damage the lungs, skin, eyes or mucus membranes.

Dram vials and other small containers can be difficult to label because of their size. In this instance, we recommend that you place these items in test tube racks, boxes or other containers, and label these items instead. Labeling a shelf or draw where these chemicals are located is also possible, however any chemicals removed that do not have a full chemical name, must remain under your direct control and supervision.

Labels on purchased chemicals must include:

  • The common name of the chemical
  • The name, address and emergency phone number of the company responsible for the product
  • An appropriate hazard warning

The warning may be a single word – “danger”, “warning” and “caution” – or may identify the primary hazard, both physical (i.e., water reactive, flammable or explosive) and health (i.e., carcinogen, corrosive, or irritant). Most labels will provide you with additional safety information to help you protect yourself while working with substances. This includes protective measures to be used when handling the material, clothing that should be worn, first aid instructions, storage information and procedures to follow in the event of a fire, leak or spill. A good example of a label for acetone that meets OSHA requirements is included below.

Read the label each time you use a newly purchased chemical. It is possible the manufacturer may have added new hazard information or reformulated the product since your last purchase, and thus altered the potential hazards you face while working with the product.

Exposure Limits & Odor Threshold Table

Odor Threshold
ACETIC ACID 10 10 15 2 1,000
ACETONE 1000 500 750 2-100 20,000
ACETONITRILE 40 2 20 4,000
BENZENE 1 0.5 2.5 30 2,000
N BUTYL ALCOHOL 100 50 50 0.1-3 8,000
CHLOROFORM 50c 10c 100 1,000
DIETHYL AMINE 25 5 15 0.02-25 2,000
FORMALDEHYDE 0.75 0.3 1 30
HEXANE 500 50 5,000
METHYL ALCOHOL 200 200 250 10 25,000
PHOSGENE 0.1 0.1 0.5 2
PYRIDINE 5 5 0.01 3,600
TOLUENE 200 50 0.2 2,000
TRIETHYLAMINE 25 5 15 1 1,000
XYLENE 100 100 150 0.5 10,000

PEL: Permissible Exposure Limit, OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.1000, Tables Z-1, Z-2, or Z-3
TWA-TLV: Time Weighted Average-Threshold Limit Values, 1999-2000 ACGIH
TWA-STEL: Time Weighted Average-Short Term Exposure Limit, 1999-2000 ACGIH
IDLH: Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health, NIOSH-MSHA
PPM: Parts of Chemical Per Million Parts of Air
C: Maximum Allowable Exposure