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This section discusses chemical labels, Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs), and other sources of chemical information.

5.1 Labels and Labeling

All containers of chemicals must be properly labeled. These include chemicals stored in their original containers, chemicals transferred to another container for storage, and chemical solutions prepared in the lab for non-immediate use.

5.1.1 Purchased Chemicals

Purchased chemicals must be labeled with:

  1. The chemical or trade name;
  2. Specific hazards posed by the chemical;
  3. The name and address of the manufacturer or other responsible party; and
  4. Manufacturer's emergency telephone number.

5.1.2 Chemical Solutions Prepared in the Lab

Chemical solutions and mixtures prepared in the lab not for immediate use must be labeled with the following information:

  1. Hazardous components and concentration of each;
  2. Physical and health hazards;
  3. Protective measures (e.g., use gloves, use in chemical fume hood);
  4. Name of person who mixed it; and
  5. Date of preparation.

Blank labels are available from EH&S. The person preparing the solution is responsible for assuring that the container is labeled properly.

5.1.3 Unlabeled or Illegibly Labeled Containers

If an unlabeled or illegibly labeled container is found and the contents are known, immediately relabel the container. See Section 13, Chemical Index, the chemical's MSDS, or other source for the hazard classes, health hazards and protective measures. If the contents are not known, contact EH&S for disposal.

5.1.4 Pipes Carrying Hazardous Chemicals

Pipes or tubing carrying a hazardous chemical from a source that is not readily visible must be labeled. Warning signs along the course of the pipe may also be warranted. For example, a pipe carrying analytical gas from a compressed gas cylinder to another area should be labeled in several places along its length.

5.1.5 Second Language Requirement

All labels must be legible and in English. If a person working in an area where hazardous chemicals are present does not read English, the supervisor in the area must add warning labels or signs in the language of the staff member.

5.2 Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs)

An MSDS is a document for the user of a chemical that identifies the hazardous components of the product, the specific dangers, safety precautions to employ when using the product, and emergency procedures for exposures. As mandated by the Right-to-Know Law, manufacturers of chemical products are responsible for publishing and maintaining an MSDS for each of their products and for making the MSDS available to their customers. As an employer, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center is required to make MSDSs available to staff members at all times.

Information on an MSDS must include the following:

  1. Trade name, hazardous chemical component(s) and synonyms;
  2. Physical and chemical properties of product;
  3. Primary routes of entry into the body;
  4. Exposure limits;
  5. Carcinogenicity status and health effects;
  6. Handling precautions; and
  7. Emergency and first aid procedures for spills and exposures.

5.2.1 How to Get an MSDS

MSDSs can be obtained directly from the product manufacturer (website or by calling). They can also be retrieved using the MSDS link on the EH&S website. They can also be ordered from EH&S in person or by telephone, fax, e-mail, or written request. Include the chemical or product name exactly as it appears on the label, the catalog or product number, and the manufacturer's name and address.

5.2.2 Missing Ingredient Listing on MSDSs

The hazardous ingredient section on an MSDS may be absent or blank for one of three reasons:

  1. The chemical or ingredient in the product has not been statistically or scientifically proven to be either a health or physical hazard. Chemical manufacturers are not required to list these ingredients.
  2. The hazardous component is not more than 1.0 percent of the product, or, if carcinogenic, is not more than 0.1 percent of the product.
  3. The ingredient section may also be left blank or partially blank in order to protect trade secrets. If this is the case, it will be stated. EH&S can request disclosure of proprietary information to ensure the protection of a staff member. In the event of a medical emergency involving an unidentified ingredient, the manufacturer must immediately disclose the ingredient's identity and health effects to the attending physician. A 24-hour emergency number where this information is available must be listed on the MSDS.

5.3 Sources of Chemical Information: The EH&S Website, The Fred Hutch Library, and Other EH&S Reference Materials

Section 12: Chemical Hazard Classes and Special Instructions, includes information on hazards, handling procedures, storage, disposal, emergency responses, and special instructions on dealing with various types of chemicals. For information and safety instructions regarding specific chemicals used at the Hutch, check EH&S's website, which includes updated, detailed information on common laboratory chemicals. Read the EH&S's chemical safety summaries.

EH&S and the Fred Hutch Library have a broad selection of references that all employees are welcome to use. EH&S keeps a variety of references on toxicology, industrial hygiene for laboratories, and chemistry for use by employees. For a list of these references, see Section 14, References, at the end of this chapter.