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Employee Guide to Hazard Communication

The purpose of Oregon Administrative Rule Chapter 437, Division 155 (Hazard Communication), is to ensure that the hazards of all chemicals produced or imported by chemical manufacturers or importers are evaluated, and that information concerning their hazards is transmitted to affected employers and employees. This transmittal of information is to be accomplished by means of comprehensive hazard communication programs. This legislative law was developed to become a part of the "Employee Right To Know Act", which makes access to the information on hazardous chemicals possible. This employee guide to Rogue Community College's Hazard Communication Program is designed to assist you in locating more comprehensive reference materials. The following will outline College policy, describe briefly the requirements of this division, and describe how you as employees might benefit from this information.

I. Hazardous Chemical Container Labeling Policy

All supervisors will verify that containers received into the workplace for use will:

  • Be clearly labeled as to the contents with appropriate Hazard Communication label and RCC ID number.

No containers will be released for use until the above data is verified.

The container labeling policy is intended to provide the employee with an immediate, on-site information source for the hazardous chemicals they use. Any secondary container labels that are needed can be obtained through your immediate supervisor.

All secondary containers not designated for immediate use will also be labeled and include the following:

  • Be clearly labeled as to the contents with appropriate Hazard Communication label and RCC ID number.

II. Employee Protection

The main objective when dealing with hazardous chemicals is to prevent exposure to the body. Chemicals enter the body in typically three ways: Inhalation, absorption, and ingestion. Protection of the skin is accomplished through the use of splash-proof goggles and face shields. Protection of the lungs is accomplished through the use of approved respirators. This personal protective equipment is available and will be utilized. For details on specific safe work practices, emergency procedures, etc., consult with your immediate supervisor.

III. Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)

Copies of MSDMs for all hazardous chemicals to which college employees may be exposed will be kept in an MSDS manual. The Material Safety Data Sheets are the backbone of this Hazard Communication program. The Material Safety Data Sheet includes information on the potential health hazards of hazardous chemicals, emergency and first aid procedures, cleanup and disposal methods, special protective information, etc. The MSDS provides very detailed and comprehensive information and was obtained for each hazardous chemical used by college employees. The MSDS manual will also include an index or listing of hazardous chemicals used by the college employees, a written Hazard Communication program, glossary of terms, and an actual copy of the administrative code. The locations of this manual will be posted on all employee bulletin boards. The review and/or copy of this information is encouraged and will be available during all work shifts.

IV. New Hazardous Chemicals Entering the Work Place

Material Safety Data Sheets and any special training required will be made available when new hazardous chemicals enter the workplace prior to the use of material. Purchasing will request any appropriate MSDS and will forward it to the safety coordinator, at which point it will be implemented into the affected manual. All personnel who directly buy new chemicals will also obtain MSDSs, then forward them to the safety coordinator for distribution prior to the use of material. The supervisors will communicate any particular training or protective procedures for the new chemicals.

V. Employee Training and Information

After the initial implementation and training on this Hazard Communication Program, each new employee of the college will be given this employee guide and will be given instruction on hazardous chemicals in their work place. Each employee will sign a form to verify that they attended the training, received the written materials, and understand college policies on Hazard Communication.

VI. Hazardous Chemical/Monitoring of Exposure

When determined to be necessary, Rogue Community College will utilize the expertise of an outside Industrial Hygienist (Consultant) to monitor, investigate, and make recommendations concerning work areas that are identified as high-risk or problem areas. These high-risk areas, and the hazards associated with them, will be eliminated if feasible. Employee cooperation is essential.

VII. Index of all Known Hazardous Chemicals Used by RCC Employees

Rogue Community College, with all its diversity in operations, utilizes many chemicals considered to be hazardous. To single out and identify where each of these chemicals is used and how they are used would be a task of monumental proportion for any one person. Therefore, identifying where these hazardous chemicals are present throughout the different work areas will be the responsibility of the supervisory staff and their immediate employees.

VIII. Additional Policy

In addition to the information already provided, the Written Hazard Communication Program, located in all safety manual locations, will provide information on college policies regarding Hazardous Non-routine Tasks that involve hazardous chemicals, hazardous chemicals in Unlabeled Systems, and how Contractors will be informed on hazardous chemicals before they enter the work site.


This program on Hazard Communication makes available sometimes hidden or withheld information. It is to your benefit to utilize this information. Take a few minutes to look up the hazards associated with a specific chemical you use in the work place. If used with respect, chemicals can be safe and can make most jobs easier. If mishandled, chemicals can and will take life away. The MSDS Manual is a good source of information for you as employees. It will help you to know what it is you're working with and how to work with it safely.

Glossary of Common MSDS Terms:

Acute Effect:
An adverse effect on human or animal body, with severe symptoms developing rapidly and coming quickly to a crisis.
Chronic Effect:
An adverse effect on a human or animal body, with symptoms which develop slowly over a long period of time or which recur frequently.
Chronic Toxicity:
Adverse (chronic) effects resulting from repeated doses of/or exposures to a substance over a relatively prolonged period of time. Ordinarily used to denote effects in experimental animals.
Dermal Toxicity:
Adverse effects resulting from skin exposure to a substance. Ordinarily used to denote effects in experimental animals.
Hazard Material:
In a Broad sense, hazardous material is any substance or mixture of substances having properties capable of producing adverse effects on the health or safety The term "hazardous material" means a material that has one or more of the following characteristics:
  1. has a flash point below 140 degrees F., closed cut, or is subject to spontaneous heating;
  2. has a threshold limit value below 500 ppm for gases and vapors, below 500 Mg/m3 for fumes, and below 25 mppcf for dusts;
  3. a single dose oral LD 50 below 500 mg/kg;
  4. is subject to polymerization with the release of large amounts of energy;
  5. is a strong oxidizing or reducing agent;
  6. causes first degree burns to skin in short time exposure, or is systematically toxic by skin contact, or;
  7. in the course of normal operations, may produce dusts, gases, fumes, vapors, mists, or smokes which have one or more of the above characteristics.
Lethal concentration 50: the concentration of a material in air which, on the basis of laboratory tests, is expected to kill 50 percent of a group of test animals when administered as a single exposure (usually 1 or 4 hours). The LC 50 is expressed as parts of material per million parts of air, by volume (ppm) for gases and vapors, or as micrograms of material per liter of air (ug/L), or milligrams of material per cubic meter of air (mg/m3) for dusts and mists, as well as for gases and vapors.
LD 50:
Lethal dose 50: a single dose of a material which on the basis of laboratory tests is expected to kill 50 percent of a group of test animals. The LD 50 dose is usually expressed as milligrams or grams of material per 50 kilogram of animal body weight (mg/kg or g/kg).
A substance or agent capable of altering the genetic material in a living cell.
Permissible exposure limit: an exposure limit established by OSHA regulatory authority. May be time-weighted average (TWA) limit or a maximum concentration exposure limit.
% Volatile:
Percent volatile by volume: the percentage of a liquid or solid (by volume) that will evaporate or could ignite at an ambient temperature of 70 degrees F (unless some other temperature is stated). Examples: butane, gasoline, and paint thinner (mineral spirits) are 100 percent volatile; their individual evaporation rates vary, but over a period of time, each will evaporate completely.
Parts per million: a unit for measuring the concentration of a gas or vapor in air-parts (by volume) of the gas or vapor in a million parts of air. Also used to indicate the concentration of a particular substance in a liquid or solid.
A substance which on first exposure causes little or no reaction in man or test animals, but which on repeated exposure may cause a marked response not necessarily limited to the contact site. Skin sensitization is the most common form of sensitization in the industrial setting, although respiratory sensitization to a few chemicals is also known to occur.
Threshold Limit Value: a term used by ACHIH to express the airborne concentration of a material to which nearly all persons can be exposed day after day, without
  1. TVL-TWA: the allowable Time Weighted Average concentration for a normal 8-hour workday or 40-hour workweek.
  2. TLV-STEL: the Short-Term Exposure Limit, or maximum concentration for a continuous 15-minute exposure period (maximum of four such periods per day, with at least 60 minutes between exposure periods, and provided that the daily TLV-TWA is not exceeded).
  3. TLV-C: The Ceiling Exposure Limit-the concentration that should not be exceeded even instantaneously.