Issue Date: July 2, 2012
Confusing Hazard Communication Standard
The recent update to the Hazard Communication Standard by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration indicates that somebody was not paying attention (C&EN, June 11, page 38). Although there are pictograms on the labels that enable the user to immediately recognize the hazard each chemical represents, confusion will inevitably arise because the numbering system that ranks the severity of risk is the reverse of the widely used U.S. National Fire Protection Association standards, as stated in the article.
A receiving room at a laboratory will receive one ranking from the transporter and the opposite on the chemical label itself. Where was the chemical community during the development of this regulation?
It is ironic that the same issue of C&EN has an article entitled “Creating Safety Cultures in Academic Institutions” (page 46). How will it be possible to properly train personnel with this contradiction? One of the great triumphs of chemistry was the creation of an orderly system of nomenclature in the 19th century that allowed communication among scientists and avoided confusion about what was at hand. Have we not learned anything from that?
By Lowell J. Miller
Santa Barbara, Calif.
- Chemical & Engineering News
- ISSN 0009-2347
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