Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Why The Hazard Communication Standard Requires Labeling

OSHA Hazard Communication Standard 1910.1200(f)(5): Except as provided in paragraphs (f)(6) and (f)(7) of this section, the employer shall ensure that each container of hazardous chemicals in the workplace is labeled, tagged or marked with the following information:

1910.1200(f)(5)(i) Identity of the hazardous chemical(s) contained therein; and,

1910.1200(f)(5)(ii) Appropriate hazard warnings, or alternatively, words, pictures, symbols, or combination thereof, which provide at least general information regarding the hazards of the chemicals, and which, in conjunction with the other information immediately available to employees under the hazard communication program, will provide employees with the specific information regarding the physical and health hazards of the hazardous chemical.

Meanwhile, in a hospital in North Carolina:
"Toward the end of last year, elevator workers Duke Health Raleigh Hospital and Durham Regional Hospital drained hydraulic fluid into empty soap containers and capped them without changing the labels.

Not long afterward, medical staff complained that some of their surgical tools felt slick. But it was not until January that nearly 4,000 patients learned that for two months their surgeons had unknowingly used instruments washed in the slippery fluid instead of soap. The instruments also had been run through a steam bath for sterilization.

Duke University Health System assured patients that the mix-up created little chance of medical problems. The hospital said it monitored infection rates and found no increase for the time the hydraulic fluid was used.

But a federal agency determined both hospitals had endangered patients."