The Massachusetts Right-to-Know Law and regulations and the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Hazard Communication Standard (29 CFR 1910.1200) address employee and community concerns about hazardous substances in the workplace and the potential adverse health effects from exposure to these substances. The Massachusetts Right-to-Know Law establishes requirements designed to help public employees and communities by preventing adverse health effects from exposure to workplace chemicals. All employees have a need and the right to know what chemicals they may have contact with in the workplace, their potential adverse health effects, methods of protection, and proper responses to emergencies or accidents involving them. The Massachusetts Substance List (MSL), prepared by the State, lists the hazardous substances regulated by the Massachusetts Right-to-Know Law. Employers are required to maintain Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) for each hazardous substance in the workplace and to make them available to employees on request. Information about workplace chemicals contained in MSDSs is prepared by producers of chemicals and circulated to distributors and employers. Employers are responsible for making MSDSs available to employees and the State. Employers are required to label containers of hazardous substances and to train their employees in the proper handling of these substances.
The Department of Public Health, Department of Environmental Protection, and Department of Labor and Workforce Development each has regulatory power under the Massachusetts Right-to-Know Law. Regulations implementing the law appear in the Code of Massachusetts Regulations (CMR) as follows:
These regulations create serious legal duties and responsibilities. Violation of these duties and responsibilities can result in civil or criminal sanctions being imposed. The following information is designed to alert Bridgewater State College employees to the requirements of the Massachusetts Right-to-Know Law and to the potential hazards from exposure to the chemicals in their workplace that appear on the MSL. It is a general source of information designed to supplement more comprehensive sources and employee training programs. It is hoped that each employee will become more aware of the potential dangers of hazardous substances and use the proper safety procedures in handling them.
The goal of this policy is to provide for a comprehensive hazardous substances and hazardous waste management program, which most effectively protects human health, safety, and welfare, protects the environment, and incorporates hazardous waste reduction techniques.
General Duties and Responsibilities In The Workplace
The Massachusetts Right-to-Know Law requires employers in the public sector to undertake a program to give their employees the names of toxic and hazardous substances used in their workplaces which appear on the Massachusetts Substance List (MSL) and to inform them of the hazards associated with these substances.
Employers are required to maintain, at a central location in the workplace, a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for every regulated substance listed in the MSL that is manufactured, processed, used, or stored in the workplace. Alternatively, as a matter of Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Division of Occupational Safety (DOS) policy, it is acceptable for a municipal, county, or state employer to assume that all chemicals for which a manufacturer has prepared a MSDS are covered by the Massachusetts Right-to-Know Law. However, many manufacturers and distributors prepare MSDS's for all their substances, many of which are not in the MSL.
Any employee (or designated representative such as a physician or an attorney) may obtain a MSDS for any substance appearing on the MSL to which the employee may be or may have been exposed. The employer has four working days to comply with the employees request for a MSDS. Failure to comply with the four-day period, except in situations where the employer has used diligent effort to provide the MSDS and has failed, authorizes the employee to refuse to work with the substance for which the MSDS has been requested until such time as the employer supplies the proper document. (Note: There is an exception to the refusal-to-work provision for employees of state and local governments performing essential services.) Employers must provide instruction and training for employees about toxic and hazardous substances present in the workplace.
All containers of toxic or hazardous substances in the workplace must be labeled with the chemical name of the substance. Containers of mixtures must be labeled with the chemical name of each toxic or hazardous constituent when that constituent comprises one percent or more of the mixture. Labels must be clear, prominent, in English, and weather resistant. As a matter of the Division of Occupational Safety (DOS) policy, containers which are labeled in accordance with the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard will also be considered to satisfy the labeling requirements of the Massachusetts Right-to-Know Law.
Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)
The Environmental Health and Safety office located in Boyden Hall maintains all MSDSS. Copies are available on request. Copies of MSDSS for toxic and hazardous substances, which may be present in your workplace, are available from your supervisor.
A MSDS contains basic information for employees regarding toxic and hazardous substances and the health and safety procedures for their proper handling and use. Regardless of the form in which a MSDS is prepared, it must contain the following information:
Information contained in MSDSs from different manufacturers for a particular substance is likely to vary considerably. Some MSDSs contain accurate and detailed information, while others contain minimum and sometimes misleading information. As noted above, MSDSs should not be relied upon for information on waste disposal as most are deficient in this information. Merely stating that all federal, state, and local laws must be obeyed for waste disposal does not provide proper or sufficient information. The Massachusetts Hazardous Waste Regulations (310 CMR 30.00) must be consulted whenever there is a question concerning waste disposal. The Bridgewater State College, Environmental Health and Safety Office operates a comprehensive hazardous waste management program and should be consulted whenever there is any question of a waste substance being a hazardous waste (telephone extension 2751).
OSHA defines a "combustible liquid" as any liquid having a flashpoint at or above 100°F (37.8°C) but below 200°F, except any mixture having components with flashpoints of 200°F or higher the total volume of which make up 99 percent or more of the total volume of the mixture. A "flammable solid" is defined by OSHA as a solid, other than a blasting agent or explosive, that is liable to cause fire through friction, absorption of moisture, spontaneous chemical change, or retained heat from manufacturing or processing, or which can be ignited readily and, when ignited, burns so vigorously and persistently as to create a serious hazard.
In order to have a fire or explosion, there must be a source of ignition or energy source, a supply of oxygen or sufficient volume of air, and a gas or vapor within flammable limits, that is, between the LEL and the UEL. One or more of these conditions required for a fire to exist should always be avoided. The risk of fire or explosion can be significantly reduced when working with flammable liquids by observing the following safety practices:
Corrosive substances attack living tissue and can cause severe burns to the skin and especially to the eyes. Breathing corrosive vapors or mists can cause severe bronchial irritation. Corrosive substances include strong acids, strong bases (caustics), strong dehydrating agents, and oxidizers. Strong acids include acetic acid, chromic acid, hydrochloric acid, hydrofluoric acid, nitric acid, perchloric acid, phosphoric acid, and sulfuric acid. Strong bases (caustics) include ammonium hydroxide ("ammonia"), calcium hydroxide, potassium hydroxide, and sodium hydroxide. Bases are often used as ingredients in cleaning products. Strong dehydrating agents include calcium oxide, phosphorus pentoxide, solid potassium hydroxide, solid sodium hydroxide, and concentrated sulfuric acid. Oxidizers include chromic acid, concentrated nitric acid, perchloric acid, sodium hypochlorite, and concentrated sulfuric acid. In addition to their corrosive properties, oxidizers present a fire and explosion hazard should they come in contact with organic substances or inorganic reducing agents. Corrosive gases include ammonia, bromine, chlorine, and fluorine.
Vapors from strong acids or bases, chemical anhydrides, aldehydes, and other chemicals can be corrosive. Inhalation of corrosive vapors or gases can cause severe irritation and damage to the respiratory tract. Corrosive substances in contact with the skin may cause severe burns, blistering, and irritation. Exposed areas should be immediately flushed with large quantities of water for at least fifteen (15) minutes. It is especially important to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) including apron, eye protection, protective clothing, and respirator as needed when working with corrosive substances. Corrosive substances are particularly damaging to the eyes. Chemical splash goggles, which are indirectly vented or other approved eye protection, should always be worn when working with corrosives, especially strong bases. Should a corrosive substance enter the eyes, contact lenses should be immediately removed and the eyes flushed with large quantities of water for at least fifteen (15) minutes. The eyewash must provide the fifteen-minute flow at a minimum of 0.4 gallons per minute and must be located within ten seconds of travel or within one hundred feet from the immediate work area. The eyewash must be located within the immediate work area to prevent travel through a doorway.
Oxidizers have corrosive properties and, in addition, present fire and explosion hazards on contact with organic materials and inorganic reducing agents. Strong oxidizing agents include chromic acid, concentrated nitric acid, perchloric acid, concentrated sulfuric acid, chlorates, nitrates, nitrites, perchlorates, and peroxides. In the event of bodily contact with an oxidizer, the area exposed should be immediately flushed with large quantities of water for at least fifteen (15) minutes. Oxidizers should always be stored well away from flammable and combustible materials as they can initiate or promote combustion and can exacerbate a fire should it occur.
Reactive substances are unstable when mixed with other substances and may cause fire, explosion, or the production of poisonous gases. They include explosives, unstable substances which undergo violent change without detonating, water reactive substances which react violently or form potentially explosive mixtures with water, substances which produce poisonous gases or vapors with water, and cyanides and sulfides which can produce poisonous gases when in contact with acids or strong bases.
Many substances cause harmful health effects. The degree of toxicity of different substances varies considerably as does the amount of time before symptoms are noticed. Toxic substances may enter the body through skin contact, ingestion, or inhalation. It is important not to eat or smoke in areas where chemicals are being used or stored; and it is also important to wash ones hands frequently and thoroughly when using toxic substances. Proper personal protective equipment (PPE) including gloves, apron, eye protection, and respirator should be worn while using toxic substances. Care should always be taken in handling toxic substances; and exposure to dusts, fumes, or vapors should be very limited or eliminated.
Many chemicals exhibit more than one hazard, i.e., they may be flammable, corrosive, and toxic, or they exhibit both acute toxicity and chronic toxicity. Information on occupational exposure and chronic exposure to toxic substances should be obtained from MSDS's and other reliable sources.
Health effects must be indicated on the labels on containers of chronically toxic substances. The Massachusetts Right-to-Know Law calls for code letters for the following health effects:
(*C*) for carcinogen
(*M*) for mutagen
(*T*) for teratogen
(*N*) for neurotoxin
(*E*) for extraordinarily hazardous substance
The appropriate code letters in the Massachusetts Substance List (MSL) indicates chemicals having these health effects.
Everyone working with hazardous substances has a responsibility to use them as safely as possible in order to protect themselves, their coworkers, and the environment. Along with personal protection, there is a responsibility to others that potentially could be exposed to hazardous substances through careless or improper use. It is extremely important to become familiar with the properties of the substances being used, the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) for their safe use, and their proper application. Spills and contamination should always be avoided; and any spill or contamination that should occur should always be cleaned up immediately and thoroughly. Knowledge of the proper storage of hazardous substances and of the proper emergency response to accidents involving them is very important for personal safety as well as the safety of others in the workplace.
National Fire Protection Association (Nfpa) Hazard Rating System For Chemicals
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) hazard rating system for chemicals provides basic information of the severity of chemical hazards to fire fighting, emergency, and other personnel which may have short-term, acute exposure while responding to fires, spills, or similar emergencies. It is not applicable to chronic exposure or to non-emergency occupational exposure. It identifies the hazards of chemicals in three primary categories: health, flammability, and reactivity (instability). The order of severity is indicated by numbers from zero "0" to four "4" with zero "0" representing no hazard and four "4" representing the highest hazard. N.F.P.A. labels are in the form of a diamond with "health" indicated in the blue area on the left, "flammability" indicated in the red area at the top, and "reactivity" indicated in the yellow area on the right. The bottom space is white and is used for indicating any specific hazard such as "oxidizer", "acid", "alkali", "corrosive", "use no water", and "radiation hazard".
BLUE: health hazard
YELLOW : REACTIVE HAZARD
WHITE: OTHER HAZARD
The Massachusetts Right-to-Know Law requires that all containers of more than five pounds or more than one-gallon containing toxic or hazardous substances in the workplace must be labeled with the chemical name of the substance. For mixtures, the label must include the chemical name of each toxic or hazardous constituent if that constituent comprises one percent or more (two percent or more if an impurity) of the mixture. Also, labels must be clear prominent, in English, and weather resistant. Containers must include the NFPA symbol with appropriate hazard rating if available.
The OSHA regulations, 29 CFR 1910, require that labels include the identity of the substance (the name of the product as it appears in the MSDS), health hazard warnings for all hazards (including target organ health effects), physical hazard warnings (i.e. flammable, corrosive, oxidizer, and reactive), and for manufactures and distributors, the name and address of the responsible party should additional information be needed. As a matter of Division of Occupational Safety (DOS) policy, containers which are labeled in accordance with the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard will also be considered to satisfy the labeling requirements of the Massachusetts Right-to-Know Law.
Labeling of toxic or hazardous substances is a very important function and is essential for your protection and the protection of your fellow workers and others that might come in contact with the substance. Even very small quantities of many substances can be harmful or even cause severe injury or health risk. Substances placed in temporary unlabeled containers for immediate use are an accident waiting to happen should the container be set down even for a minute and someone not knowing the contents pick up the container. To avoid confusion and to reduce risk to yourself and others in your workplace, the following is essential:
Bridgewater State College policy:
Personal Protective Equipment (Ppe)
Exposure to toxic or hazardous substances in the workplace should be eliminated or minimized through restricted use, engineering controls, proper ventilation, and use of less toxic substances. However, PPE is necessary when there is no feasible alternative to the use of a particular toxic or hazardous substance or when other control measures offer insufficient protection. PPE includes eye and face protection, head protection, foot protection, hand protection, protective clothing, and respirators. One of the best sources for PPE for a particular substance is a well-written MSDS for that substance. The Environmental Health and Safety Office has MSDSs for all substances in your workplace that appear on the MSL as well as other resource material for PPE and should be contacted whenever you are in doubt as to the proper PPE you should be wearing. OSHA regulations, 29 CFR 1910.132, require a written certification of workplace hazard assessment and a written certification of training for all PPE except for hearing protection which is covered by 29 CFR 1910.95. Although public sector workplaces in Massachusetts are not covered by OSHA standards, it is the policy of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Division of Occupational Safety that public sector employers comply with the same requirements. The Environmental Health and Safety Officer in cooperation with your area supervisor will conduct the written certification of workplace hazard assessment and provide the certification of training in the proper use of PPE. All required PPE would be provided, maintained, and paid for by the college.
Hazardous Substances Management
Bridgewater State College is committed to protecting the health, safety, and welfare of faculty, staff, students, and the public and to protecting the environment through a comprehensive hazardous substances management program. The elimination of dangerous combinations of hazardous chemicals in storage, the elimination of hazardous accumulations of unwanted substances, the improvement of chemical storage conditions, and the prevention of inappropriate disposal of chemicals through proper handling and disposal of hazardous wastes greatly improves overall safety, reduces potential liability and expenses, and protects the environment.
A comprehensive and effective hazardous substances management program, including hazardous waste reduction (toxics use reduction), can only be achieved through control of hazardous substances from the time of purchase through waste generation and final disposal (cradle-to-grave). Proper and complete documentation must be practiced at every stage, to promote safety, to meet legal requirements, to reduce liability, and to provide for the effective management of hazardous wastes. It is essential for all that use hazardous substances and generate hazardous wastes to cooperate fully with the Bridgewater State College Hazardous Substances Management Program.
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Last Modified: May 5, 2004