OSHA Modifies the Hazard Communication Standard by James Kaznosky
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) modified the Hazard Communication Standard to align with the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals. The Hazard Communication Standard serves as the foundation for chemical safety programs. OSHA believes the change will introduce more consistency in chemical classification and labeling by standardizing the information on chemical labels and on accompanying safety documents, regardless of the chemical’s country of manufacture or distribution. This is expected to enhance worker comprehension of chemical hazards and result in greater hazard awareness, in turn leading to safer handling and use of chemicals.
The impact of the new GHS on Columbia’s operations is not drastic, in that the general approach to chemical safety and hygiene is not changing. What we will begin to see changing are manufacturer’s labels, which will now include standardized hazard communication elements specifying each hazard, accompanied by globally harmonized pictograms and signal words to effectively communicate the hazard. Also, the familiar Material Safety Data Sheet, or, “MSDS” will be renamed, simply, “Safety Data Sheet” (“SDS”), and will now be in a standardized format with 16 distinct sections. What OSHA is not changing is the requirement that a written/electronic chemical inventory be prepared by each laboratory or Facilities shop. Where an electronic chemical inventory management system for laboratory chemicals is utilized (i.e., ChemTracker at Morningside and Lamont-Doherty), this inventory requirement is essentially satisfied as long as all chemicals are included in the inventory and lab personnel are familiar with how to access the inventory and the corresponding SDSs.
Manufacturers have three years to migrate to SDS. All employees handling chemicals in the workplace will be required to be trained within 2 years to ensure recognition and understanding of the new labels and SDS. To comply with OSHA’s training requirement, Columbia will begin incorporating these changes into the Laboratory Safety and Chemical Hygiene training program in late 2011, which will introduce new employees to these changes as well as to provide employees attending during biannual refresher training.
For more information please visit…http://www.osha.gov/as/opa/facts-hcs-ghs.html.
Regulated Medical Waste 101 by Keith Bottum
Are you choosing the correct disposal method for your lab’s waste? When it comes to Regulated Medical Waste (RMW) in particular - including “red bag” and “sharps” waste - a few seconds of thoughtful decision time can go a long way toward safety and savings. Making an incorrect decision, whether unwittingly or intentionally, can create unnecessary and serious exposure hazards for both lab staff and individuals “downstream” who handle lab waste. Additionally, overuse of RMW waste containers is expensive. Did you know that RMW waste costs the University approximately 4 times, pound for pound, what it costs to dispose of municipal trash? The implications of such may not seem significant on an individual lab basis, but as a whole, with the University disposing of nearly 500,000 pounds of RMW in 2010, these are major expenditures.
Take a few moments to reacquaint your lab with RMW handling practices by reviewing the RMW section of University’s Health & Safety Manual…http://www.ehs.columbia.edu/Policy2.12.html