The Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Hazard Communication Standard is designed to protect against illnesses and injuries. This standard is also called the Right to Know law because you have the right to know what chemicals you may be exposed to and how to protect yourself against those chemicals.


The standard insures that employers and employees are provided with sufficient information to recognize chemical hazards and take appropriate protective measures.

Employers are required to provide chemical hazard communication information through chemical inventory lists, safety data sheets (SDS), written program, labels and training. ETSU's written program is kept in the EH&S office, local department or is available on-line.

TOSHA has adopted the new Globally Harmonized System (GHS).

Safety Data Sheets (SDS)


All manufacturers and distributors supplying ETSU with products which contain hazardous chemicals, or are in themselves physical hazards, must provide the university with a Safety Data Sheet for that product. The Safety Data Sheet must be provided prior to, or with, the initial shipment of the product to the university and must be in the new 16-section format by June 1, 2015. If a SDS is updated, a copy must be forwarded with the first shipment after occurrence of that update. If a product is not considered hazardous, the supplier must provide a statement to that effect. If a SDS is not shipped with the product or received within five (5) days, the department should request it in writing.

Saftey Data Sheet Sections

  • Section 1 Identification;
  • Section 2 Hazard(s) identification;
  • Section 3 Composition/information on ingredients;
  • Section 4 First-aid measures;
  • Section 5 Fire-fighting measures;
  • Section 6 Accidental release measures;
  • Section 7 Handling and storage;
  • Section 8 Exposure controls/personal protection;
  • Section 9 Physical and chemical properties;
  • Section 10Stability and reactivity;
  • Section 11Toxicological information.
  • Section 12Ecological information;
  • Section 13Disposal considerations;
  • Section 14Transport information; and
  • Section 15Regulatory information.
  • Section 16Other information, including date of preparation or last revision.

The following articles do not require a SDS:

  • Food
  • Pills
  • Cosmetics

Safety Data Sheets will be kept in your area or can be easily accessed through ETSU's Health & Safety website.


A substance having a flash point below 100 degrees Fahrenheit - easily ignited and quick burning.
A substance having a flash point above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, but below 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
A substance which has the capacity, through chemical reaction or mixture, to produce injury or harm to the body by entry through absorption, ingestion, inhalation, or injection . (Lead, Chlorine, etc.)
Corrosive (caustic/acidic):
A substance with the capability of burning, destroying or eating away organic tissue by chemical reaction - Corrosive. (lime, hydrochloric acid)
A substance's susceptibility to undergo a chemical reaction or change that may result in dangerous side effects, such as an explosion, burning, and corrosive or toxic emissions.

Incoming Container Labeling

The chemical manufacturer, distributor, or importer must label a container with:

  • Product identifier
  • Signal word
  • Hazard Statement(s)
  • Pictogram
  • Precautionary statement(s)
Chemical Labels

Note: Existing labels on containers must not be removed or defaced.

Hazard Communication Standard Pictogram

As of June 1, 2015, the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) will require pictograms on labels to alert users of the chemical hazards to which they may be exposed. Each pictogram consists of a symbol on a white background framed within a red border and represents a distinct hazard(s). The pictogram on the label is determined by the chemical hazard classification.

Health Hazard

Health Hazard
  • Carcinogen
  • Mutagenicity
  • Reproductive Toxicity
  • Respiratory Sensitizer
  • Target Organ Toxicity
  • Aspiration Toxicity


  • Flammables
  • Pyrophorics
  • Self-Heating
  • Emits Flammable Gas
  • Self-Reactives
  • Organic Peroxides

Exclamation Mark

Exclamation Mark
  • Irritant (skin and eye)
  • Skin Sensitizer
  • Acute Toxicity
  • Narcotic Effects
  • Respiratory Tract Irritant
  • Hazardous to Ozone Layer (Non-Mandatory)

Gas Cylinder

Gas Cylinder
  • Gases Under Pressure


  • Skin Corrosion/Burns
  • Eye Damage
  • Corrosive to Metals

Exploding Bomb

Exploding Bomb
  • Explosives
  • Self-Reactives
  • Organic Peroxides

Flame Over Circle

Flame Over Circle
  • Oxidizers



  • Aquatic Toxicity

Skull and Crossbones

Skull and Crossbones
  • Acute Toxicity (fatal or toxic)

Container Transfer

If you must transfer a chemical from the original container to a smaller container (i.e. spray bottle), the smaller container must have the following:

  • Chemical name or manufacturers trade name (i.e. Isopropyl Alochol)
  • Identify hazard (i.e. flammable)

Routes of Exposure

Exposure to hazardous chemicals can occur in several different ways:

  • Inhalation-when breathing in mists or fumes
  • Absorption-when a chemical comes in contact with the skin.
  • Ingestion-when accidentally swallowing a chemical by not washing hands or splash to the face with mouth open
  • Injection-when a chemical is put into the body by a needle

The routes of exposure may cause different types of harmful effects depending on the amount of exposure to the chemical and the amount of dosage of the chemical.

The types of harmful effects are categorized as either Acute or Chronic. Acute effects happen within a short period of time, for example having headaches, nausea, and burns to the skin.

Chronic effects happen over a long time, such as Asbestosis or cancer.

Protecting Yourself

Some chemicals may be dangerous, however taking precautions will minimize the hazards for these chemicals. Precautions include:

  • Read all warning labels on containers
  • Obtain and read SDS for chemicals
  • Use engineering controls, such as ventilation, whenever possible
  • Keep work areas neat and orderly
  • Substitute less toxic chemicals if possible
  • Wear Personal Protective Equipment when necessary

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

PPE may need to be used to protect yourself from a potential injury. Read MSDS for appropriate PPE.

glovesProtects hands from chemical exposure. Glove selection table
gogglesProtects eyes from splashing chemicals.
RespiratorsProtects lungs against vapors, fumes, or mists.
Face Shields:
Face ShieldsProtects face and eyes against corrosive chemicals.
ApronsProtects body against corrosive chemicals.

Spill Clean Up

  • Minor spills should be cleaned up at the time of the spill if you are familiar with the chemical and understand the hazards of that chemical. Major spills may require special treatment, equipment or emergency assistance.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), such as rubber gloves and goggles, shall be available to the staff dealing with hazardous materials.
  • Immediately contact your supervisor or Environmental Health & Safety when you discover a spill from laboratory/clinic personnel, restrict access to the spill area, spills and call 911 or 9-4480 if there are any injuries.

Spill Clean Up