Chemical/Hazardous Material Safety
The University of North Dakota has developed and implemented a Hazard Communication Program that outlines the safety procedures that must be followed when working with or around hazardous materials. Included in the plan are sections that address Safety Data Sheets (SDSs), labels and other forms or warning, employee information, education and training, non-routine tasks, contractors and working visitors, and hazardous chemical emergencies.
For a copy of this plan contact the Office of Safety, 701.777.3341.
Asbestos is a mineral fiber that causes cancer and various respiratory illnesses. Buildings constructed prior to 1980 may contain asbestos. However, asbestos-containing materials are still being manufactured today. Therefore, the only true way to identify if asbestos is present in a material is to have it tested. Asbestos is commonly found in older appliances, brake pads and linings, insulation, shingles, siding, putties, and caulking. Generally, it is not a problem unless the asbestos-containing material is friable (if under normal pressure from finger turns into powder) and airborne.
All University owned buildings are required to be inspected by a North Dakota state-certified inspector for the presence of asbestos-containing materials prior to the beginning of any renovation or demolition projects. All individuals involved in the removal of asbestos-containing materials must be properly trained and be certified with the state of North Dakota.
If you have questions regarding asbestos or suspect a material in your work environment contains asbestos, call the Facilities Department, 701.777.2591.
Hazardous waste is defined by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) as a waste that, because of quantity, concentration, or physical, chemical, or infectious characteristics: (a) causes or significantly increases mortality or serious irreversible or incapacitating reversible illness, or (b) poses a substantial present or potential hazard to human health or the environment when improperly managed.
On the University of North Dakota campus or at any other location under UND control, hazardous waste cannot be deposited in the trash or dumped down the drain, even if it is diluted. The Environmental Protection Agency has specific rules, regulations, and a list of materials that are considered hazardous wastes. The Office of Safety handles all hazardous waste disposal issues at the University. If you have any questions as to what wastes are considered hazardous or what to do if you need to dispose of them, contact the Office of Safety.
All persons generating, handling, or accumulating hazardous waste at the University should consult The Management and Disposal of Hazardous and Chemical Wastes Guidebook for the proper procedures and methods. This information will assist you in maintaining compliance with the environmental regulations relating to hazardous wastes.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, lead poisoning is a leading environmental health risk. Lead accumulation in a person's system may lead to fatigue, sudden behavioral change, abdominal pain, anorexia, chronic headaches, joint aches, depression, anemia, impotence, and severe fetal damage in unborn infants.
Most homes and buildings built before 1978 contain lead paint. Lead can be present on any painted surface, but it is most commonly found on windows, trim, doors, railings, outside walls, and bare soil around the home. Surfaces that have been repainted may have layers of lead paint underneath. A lead inspection can tell where lead may be located.
Two common sources of lead exposure include:
- Ingestion (lead paint)
- Inhalation (lead-containing dust)
Lead based paint is of greatest concern under the following circumstances:
- Areas where young children or pregnant women are present
- Areas with flaking or deteriorating paint
- Homes or buildings that were built or painted prior to 1978
- Scraping, sanding, or disturbing old paint can release large amounts of toxic lead dust
Other sources of lead:
- Drinking water - from lead plumbing and lead solder
- The job - being exposed to lead at work and carrying it home on clothes
- Old toys and furniture - old paint that is peeling or cracking
All areas that may contain lead paint must be identified before maintenance or other work is done, especially if the work produces heat, such as welding, brazing, etc.
Lead based paint issues at the University are normally handled by the Facilities Department. They can be reached at 701.777.2591. The Office of Safety serves as an informational resource regarding lead based paint, and other lead hazards. If more information is needed, contact the Office of Safety at 701.777.3341.
To guard yourself against chemical hazards, you must first understand the chemicals you are working with. This is done by reading and understanding Safety Data Sheets (SDSs). The role of SDSs is to provide detailed information on hazardous chemicals. This information includes its potential hazardous effects, its physical and chemical characteristics, and recommendations for appropriate protective measures. All chemical manufacturers and importers must obtain, develop, and provide a SDS for each hazardous chemical they produce or import.
There are three very important uses of SDSs:
- They are used to inform employees of the hazards of the chemicals in their workplace.
- They are especially valuable when used by supervisors and others in pre-job planning to determine what precautions need to be taken when working with a hazardous chemical.
- They are used by emergency personnel responding to a chemical overexposure/accident.
It is important that you understand how to read a SDS. Take the time to understand the sections of SDSs (sections may vary):
- Chemical product and company identification
- Ingredients and occupational exposure limits
- Health hazard data
- First aid measures
- Fire fighting measures
- Accidental release measures
- Handling and storage
- Exposure controls/Personal protection
- Physical and chemical properties
- Stability and reactivity
- Toxicological information
- Ecological information
- Disposal considerations
- Transport information
- Regulatory information
- Other information
Each University department must maintain SDSs for each chemical used in their department and ensure that each SDS is readily available. The Office of Safety maintains a master file of SDSs. For information on obtaining a SDS or questions regarding SDSs, contact the Office of Safety, 701.777.3341.
Chemical/Hazardous Materials Safety– Signs and Labels
Signs and warning labels are intended to provide advance notification of potential hazards. They can be any form of written, printed or graphic material displayed for your protection.
Caution signs are displayed in areas where hazardous materials are used or stored. These signs include information regarding the hazards of the area, any special precautions and emergency contact information.
Manufacturer’s labels should be kept intact. Never deface or obscure labels or hazard warnings.
If a manufacturer’s label does not already exist, hazard information can be found on the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for the chemical.
When a chemical is transferred from the original container into a secondary container, label the new container with the name of the product, the chemical constituents and the primary hazard warnings. Containers used by one individual and emptied within their shift, do not require labeling. Labeling requirements for laboratories are outlined in the Chemical Hygiene Plan.
All peroxide forming chemicals must be labeled as "Peroxidizable" and must contain the date the container was opened.
Labels must be legible and in English. Departments having individuals who speak other languages may add the information in the language of such employees.
The chemical name or common name of the substance should be used in lieu of abbreviations or formulas.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has developed a color-coded system called NFPA 704. The system uses a color coded diamond with four quadrants in which numbers are used in the upper three quadrants to signal the degree of emergency health hazard (blue), fire hazard (red), and reactivity hazard (yellow). The bottom quadrant is used to indicate water reactivity, radioactivity, biohazards or other special hazards. The emergency hazards are signaled on a numerical scale of 0 to 4, with 0 = no unusual hazard, 1 = minor hazard, 2 = moderate hazard, 3 = severe hazard, and 4 = extreme hazard.
This system was originally designed to safeguard the lives of those individuals who may be called upon to respond to an emergency situation involving hazardous materials. The NFPA system is useful in alerting personnel to the degree of hazard and helpful in drawing attention to storage needs and emergency equipment.
If you need assistance or have questions concerning the proper interpretations of any signs or warning labels, please contact Office of Safety.