An effective HAZCOM program depends on the credibility of management’s involvement in the program; inclusion of employees in safety and health decisions; rigorous worksite analysis to identify hazards and potential hazards, including those which could result from a change in worksite conditions or practices; stringent prevention and control measures; and thorough training. It addresses hazards whether or not they are regulated by government standards. The following references characterize and further explain HAZCOM programs


  • Provide a written plan to control and manage any regulated or hazardous substances within hospital for making Specific “Hazardous Materials Communication (Haz-Com)” Program to be made for each department administering hazardous materials/chemicals. This program has identified the common hazardous substances that are used in the hospital and provides policies and procedures for the;
    • Safe storage,
    • Handling,
    • Use and disposal, and the
    • Control of spills of these substances.
  • Provide a safe environment for all employees, patients, and visitors.
  • Protect the surrounding environment from potential harm due to inappropriate handling and disposal of toxic, hazardous, regulated, non-regulated or radioactive materials.
  • Reduce any possible legal liability of hospital for improper handling of hazardous substances by following prescribed guidelines, regulations and safe practices

The Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) is a detailed information bulletin prepared by the manufacturer or importer of a chemical that describes the physical and chemical properties, physical and health hazards, routes of exposure, precautions for safe handling and use, emergency and first-aid procedures, and control measures. Information on an MSDS aids in the selection of safe products and helps prepare employers and employees to respond effectively to daily exposure situations as well as to emergency situations.

The MSDS/s is a comprehensive source of information for all types of employers. There may be information on the MSDS that is not useful to you or not important to the safety and health in your particular operation. Concentrate on the information that is applicable to your situation. Generally, hazard information and protective measures should be the focus of concern.

Sections of an MSDS and Their Significance

  • What Information are Provided on an MSDS?
    • Company Information
    • Hazardous Ingredients
    • Physical Data
    • Fire and Explosion Hazard Data
    • Health Hazard Data
    • Reactivity (Instability) Data
    • Spill or Leak Procedures
    • Special Protection Information
    • Special Precautions
  • OSHA specifies the information to be included on an MSDS, but does not prescribe the precise format for an MSDS. A non-mandatory MSDS form that meets the Hazard Communication Standard requirements has been issued and can be used as is or expanded as needed. The MSDS must be in English and must include at least the following information:
  • Section I. Chemical Identity
    1. The chemical and common name(s) must be provided for single chemical substances.
    2. An identity on the MSDS must be cross-referenced to the identity found on the label.
  • Section II. Hazardous Ingredients
    1. For a hazardous chemical mixture that has been tested as a whole to determine its hazards, the chemical and common names of the ingredients that are associated with the hazards, and the common name of the mixture must be listed.
    2. If the chemical is a mixture that has not been tested as a whole the chemical and common names of all ingredients determined to be health hazards and comprising 1 percent or greater of the composition must be listed.
    3. Chemical and common names of carcinogens must be listed if they are present in the mixture at levels of 0.1 percent or greater.
    4. All components of a mixture that have been determined to present a physical hazard must be listed.
    5. Chemical and common names of all ingredients determined to be health hazards and comprising less than 1 percent (0.1 percent for carcinogens) of the mixture must also be listed if they can still exceed an established Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) or Threshold Limit Value (TLV) or present a health risk to exposed employees in these concentrations.
  • Section III. Physical and Chemical Characteristics
    1. The physical and chemical characteristics of the hazardous substance must be listed. These include items such as boiling and freezing points, density, vapor pressure, specific gravity, solubility, volatility, and the product’s general appearance and odor. These characteristics provide important information for designing safe and healthful work practices.
  • Section IV. Fire and Explosion Hazard Data
    1. The compound’s potential for fire an explosion must be described. Also, the fire hazards of the chemical and the conditions under which it could ignite or explode must be identified. Recommended extinguishing agents and fire-fighting methods must be described.
  • Section V. Reactivity (Instability) Data
    1. This section presents information about other chemicals and substances with which it reacts. Information on any hazardous decomposition products, such as carbon monoxide, must be included.
  • Section VI. Health Hazards
    1. The acute and chronic health hazards of the chemical, together with signs and symptoms of exposure, must be listed. In addition, any medical conditions that are aggravated by exposure to the compound must be included. The specific types of chemical health hazards defined in the standard include carcinogens, corrosives, toxins, irritants, sensitizers, mutagens, teratogens, and effects on target organs (i.e., liver, kidney, nervous system, blood, lungs, mucous membranes, reproductive system, skin, eyes, etc.).
    2. The route of entry section describes the primary pathway by which the chemical enters the body. There are three principal routes of entry: inhalation, skin, and ingestion.
    3. This section of the MSDS supplies the OSHA PEL, the ACGIH TLV, and other exposure levels used or recommended by the chemical manufacturer.
    4. If the compound is listed as a carcinogen (cancer-causing agent) by OSHA, the National Toxicology Program (NTP), or the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), this information must be indicated on the MSDS.
  • Section VII. Precautions for Safe Handling and Use
    1. The standard requires the preparer to describe the precautions for safe handling and use. These include recommended industrial hygiene practices, precautions to be taken during repair and maintenance of equipment, and procedures for cleaning up spills and leaks. Some manufacturers also use this section to include useful information not specifically required by the standard, such as EPA waste disposal methods and state and local requirements.
  • Section VIII. Control Measures
    1. The standard requires the preparer of the MSDS to list any generally applicable control measures. These include engineering controls, safe handling procedures, and personal protective equipment. Information is often included on the use of goggles, gloves, body suits, respirators, and face shields.