Stay Safe, Stay Informed: Contractors and Chemical Safety

The telecom industry plays a vital role in the way information is procured, managed, and transmitted in the modern age. From the installation of satellite transmitters to the delivery of television capabilities to a customer’s home, there are countless components at work. Seamless connectivity requires that every component works in tandem.

The connective experience that results is only possible through the handling of chemical products. Ensuring that the employees and subcontractors who come in contact with hazardous materials are well informed is key to risk management, marking the difference between a safe work environment and a potentially fatal one.

Keep reading to learn more about promoting chemical safety on site, then contact Telcom Insurance Group for details specific to your company.

Chemicals, the Workplace, and Your Subcontractors

One of the top priorities of any company must be ensuring that safety measures are met – no exceptions. When personnel and contractors come into direct contact with potentially hazardous materials, it is important to understand how best to inform them of the risks involved.

What are Hazardous Materials? 

Classifying and defining hazardous materials can be difficult because definitions vary depending on the source. If contractors are transporting the material, the Department of Transportation (DOT) defines a hazardous material as one that is “capable of posing unreasonable risk to health, safety and property when transported.” If the material is being stored, however, then a hazardous material is defined as a “chemical or substance classified as a physical hazard material or a health hazard material.”

A physical hazard material is a substance classified under several headings, from an explosive substance to a water-reactive material. A health hazard material is classified as either toxic, highly toxic, or corrosive material. Consult the National Fire Protection Association’s Hazardous Materials Code for more information regarding chemical hazards and toxic substances.

What is Hazard Communication? 

Hazard communication is a set of procedures that employers must implement to inform personnel of the hazards associated with chemical exposure. When working with chemicals, employees face many physical and health-related risks that could have both long and short-term effects – so it’s crucial that they are aware.

The Hazard Communication Program, or HazCom, implements the following standard practices to keep employees informed and up to date on the risks involved when working with chemicals:

  • Chemical inventory maintenance
  • Safety Data Sheets (SDSs)
  • Proper labeling of chemical containers
  • Providing information, training, PPE, and other protective equipment to contractors

It is the employer’s responsibility to design and institute a HazCom program, detailing the standard protocols established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Chemical Safety 101: A Breakdown of the Elements

Employers must maintain open lines of communication with the subcontractors and employees using hazardous chemicals on the job site. Telcom Insurance Group has made it simple by breaking down the following elements in the HazCom program:

Safety Data Sheets 

The Hazard Communication Standard, or HCS, requires that chemical manufacturers and distributors provide safety data sheets to share information amongst contractors and employees. Safety Data Sheets, formerly known as Material Safety Data Sheets, contain 16 sections with headings and information under the headings, as outlined below:

  • Section 1, Identification: Includes product identifier; manufacturer or distributor name, address, and phone number; restrictions and recommendations on use
  • Section 2, Hazard(s) identification: includes all hazards relating to the chemical; required label elements
  • Section 3, Ingredient composition and information: contains information on chemical ingredients
  • Section 4, First-aid measures: symptoms and effects; required treatment
  • Section 5, Fire-fighting measures: suitable techniques and equipment to extinguish; chemical hazards from fire
  • Section 6, Accidental release measures: emergency procedures; protective equipment and proper cleanup and containment methods
  • Section 7, Handling and storage: outlines precautions for safe handling and storage, including incompatibilities
  • Section 8, Exposure controls/ personal protection: lists limits outlined by OSHA and ACGIH, along with any other exposure limits recommended by the manufacturer; personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Section 9, Physical and chemical properties: chemical characteristics
  • Section 10, Stability and Reactivity: lists chemical stability and the possibility of hazardous reactions
  • Section 11, Toxicological information: includes exposure routes, related symptoms; numerical measures of toxicity
  • Section 12, Ecological information: potential impact on the environment
  • Section 13, Disposal Considerations: instructions on safe disposal of product or packaging
  • Section 14, Transport information: UN number and shipping name; transport hazard class; packing group; special precautions
  • Section 15, Regulatory information: safety, health, and environmental regulations specific to the product
  • Section 16, Other information: date of preparation or last revision

Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals

In 2012, the HCS began aligning with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). This takes a consistent approach to classifying chemicals and adequately communicating hazard information to personnel.

Chemical labels are now required to have the following information:

  • Hazard pictogram: images used to classify chemical hazard(s) 
  • Signal Word: indicate the level of hazard severity (Ex. “Danger”)
  • Product identifier: chemical name, code number, or batch number
  • Supplier identification: name, address, and phone number of responsible party
  • Precautionary statements: Describes recommended measures to minimize/ prevent adverse effects
  • Hazard statements: Describes the nature and degree of the hazard (Ex. “Causes damage to kidneys through prolonged exposure”)
  • Supplemental information (as needed): The label producer may provide additional information or details

Implement Chemical Safety with Telcom Insurance Group

When it comes to chemical safety, telecommunications companies like yours can never be too careful! Outlining the proper safety procedures to contractors and personnel not only prepares the user, but mitigates the risk involved when working with chemicals.

Our team at Telcom Insurance Group is committed to promoting safety on-site for rural telecommunications industry professionals. From safety standards and protocols to risk management, we’re here to help! For more details on chemical safety procedures, get in touch today!