The OSHA Regulation CFR1910.1200 “Toxic and Hazardous Substances” is intended to address comprehensively the issue of classifying the potential hazards of chemicals and communicating information concerning hazards and appropriate protective measures to employees, and to preempt any legislation or regulatory enactments of state, or political subdivision of a state, pertaining to the subject.
Toxic Industrial chemicals are manufactured, stored, transported and used throughout the world. They can be found in the form of gas, liquid or solid state. The hazards they contain include carcinogens, corrosives and reproductive hazards. Toxic chemicals can also be highly flammable, combustible, explosive or reactive.
Here is a partial list of high toxic chemicals found in the workplace every day: Ammonia, Arsine, Boron trichloride, Boron trifluoride, Carbon Sulfide, Carbon disulfide, Chlorine, Diborane, Ethylene oxide,, Flourine, Fomaldehyde, Hydrogen Bromide, Hydrogen Chloride, Hydrogen Cyanide, Hydrogen Floride, Hydrogen Sulfide, Nitric Acid, fuming, Phosgene, Phosphorus Trichloride, Sulfur Dioxide, Tungsten Hexafluoride.
All Chemical manufacturers and importers of chemicals are required to evaluate the hazards of chemicals they produce and export. They must then provide proper labeling and complete information on each chemical hazard in material safety data sheets. Employers are required to maintain copies of all safety data sheets received with incoming shipments of sealed containers of hazardous materials and obtain as soon as possible safety data sheets for those containers received without a safety data sheet enclosed.
There are Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) for hazardous materials that have been established by OSHA. These include airborne concentrations. Generally OSHA has established 8-hour time-weighted averages for over 500 PELs. OSHA also recognizes the extensive list of PELs established by its California Division (Cal/OSHA.) While not enforceable in other states, the list is used to provide valuable information throughout the country.
In addition, the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) a private, non-profit scientific association sets guidelines on occupational health hazards. The group’s “Threshold Limit Values Chemical Substances” committee (TLV’s) annually reviews exposure limits for over 600 chemical substances as well as over 30 Biological Exposure Indices (BEI’s.) The information on these lists is required to be included on safety data sheets under the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard.