Get the right can for the right liquid

Came across this on the Justrite website yesterday and thought it might be of use to you all…

Those of you who follow my blog know that I don’t use it as a glorified commercial for our eCommerce website. I believe in providing good, accurate, up-to-date information to build trust and help everyone be just a little safer. The rest will take care of itself as experience has shown. However, it wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense to provide you with information like this and not let you know where you can get the can that you might need so if you need to order a Justrite can, you can visit our material handling page or, if the one that you need isn’t there call us at (800) 213-7092 or email me at



Spraying Pesticides? Check out the new ISO Standard!

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has just came up with a new standard for protective clothing which is directly going to impact agricultural workers, farmers and anyone else who might work with pesticides. What they have essentially done is set up three different levels based on the potential for contamination:

  • Level 1: The potential risk of contamination is relatively low. The performance requirements for level 1 garments have been developed in view of low spray drift landing on the operator, e.g. from tractor boom sprayers
  • Level 2: the potential risk of contamination is higher but not so high as to require the use of liquid-tight materials
  • Level 3: the potential risk of contamination requires use of garments made with liquid-tight materials. This level is suitable for high-exposure scenarios where it has been determined that garments that prevent liquids from penetrating/permeating provide adequate protection.

Says Helmut Eichinger, Chair of ISO/TC94/SC 13: “ISO 27065:2011 will help pesticide users to be better protected and improve quality and performances of protective clothing, as well put safer protective clothing on the market. It will also contribute to reducing the risk to occupational health for operators and workers who use liquid pesticides.

Find out more on the ISO website at:

EPA increasing access to chemical information

Have you heard of CBI? CBI stands for Confidential Business Information and generally allows manufacturers to keep certain things secret. The idea is that if I tell everyone what’s in the products that I make, they are either going to make it themselves or someone else is going to make it and sell it cheaper than I am; Kind of like Colonel Sanders keeping his blend of herbs and spices secret.

CBI makes a certain amount of sense when it comes to recipes or manufacturing processes but when industries start to claim CBI in an effort to classify chemicals that are being used in household products the area becomes a little sketchy. If you’re like me you kind of want to know what it is that you are being exposed to when you spray an air freshener.

Apparently the EPA agrees. Last week, they declassified more than “150 chemicals
contained in 104 health and safety studies that had been claimed confidential by industry
“. Furthermore the EPA is trying to stop companies from hiding behind CBI in an effort to keep consumers from knowing what chemicals they might be exposed to thereby increasing the consumers’ ability to protect himself from chemicals that they feel aren’t healthy.

Read the EPAs’ press release here.

Read more about “Increasing Transparency in TSCA

Access the Chemical Database to look up a chemical.

Different Color Cabinets for Different Types of Chemicals

A couple of days ago we talked about the different kinds of materials and which material was best for which chemical when dealing with safety cans. When these cans need to be stored, however, there is another consideration that presents itself.

While there is no regulation that requires you to store different types of chemicals in different color cabinets, it has become, not only common practice but also simple good sense. The truth is that fire departments and emergency responders understand the color coding and can react and respond better and faster as well as provide a safer rescue if color coding is used. Standard practices go as follows:

Color coding cabinets helps employees know what they’re dealing with as well. I can save time (you aren’t spending as much time digging around looking for the chemical you need), provide a safer working environment and help manage the safety of chemicals as well.

Note: Make sure you check with local authorities about the type of cabinet allowed in your state. Many states require self-closing cabinets for the storage of flammable liquids. While manual closing are often less expensive, it isn’t going to save you any money when you get cited for not having the right cabinet in your facility.

Justrite offers “Safety Can Compatibility Chart”

OSHA mandates that you properly label and keep chemicals that need to be transferred, stored or moved in the appropriate safety can. The issue, of course, is which can is the proper can?

Let’s say that you are using ethyl acetate at one of your locations. What can is the right can for that particular chemical? Galvanized steel? Polyethylene? Stainless Steel?

Fortunately, Justrite, one of the top manufacturers of safety cans has the answer for you.

You can download a “Safety Can Compatibility Chart” in pdf format right from their website that lists 28 of the most common chemicals used and rates each one according to “Poor”, “Fair” or “Good” for each of the can materials.

Here’s an idea! If you’ve got several different chemicals in use, why not download the pdf, get it laminated and post it in a prominent location to make sure that everyone’s on the same page.

Unsafe Conditions – The Deadly Dozen # 3

3. Fire and explosion hazards

A quick scan in Wikipedia of the worst industrial accidents of the past few years make obvious how serious today’s unsafe condition is; fires and explosions make up a huge percentage of the accidents. Just this past year, sugar dust at Imperial Sugar caused an explosion that was labeled “the deadliest industrial explosion in the United States in decades” (See the 4 posts on this blog concerning this explosion).

More lives are lost through fires and explosions than any other industrial accident. Conditions that are conducive to fires and explosions cannot be tolerated in the workplace.

The Fix

It is obviously beyond the scope of a daily post on a blog to try to solve the issues of fires and explosions in the workplace. A great place to start, however is “The Basics of Fire Safety” which is part of our “Basic Safety” series. Understanding the fire triangle, understanding combustibles, to chemical safety, … all of these are crucial.

For a proper assessment of the potential problems in your workplace, hire a professional, have the fire department do a walk-through, hire an industrial hygienist to do a proper evaluation.

It may cost a bit of money to have all this done but compared to the cost of the lives involved (not to mention the fines which, for Imperial Sugar amounted to $8,777,500) it is nothing.

16 new chemicals added to the toxic list

  • 1-amino-2,4-dibromoanthraquinone
  • 2,2-bis(bromomethyl)-1,3-propanediol
  • Furan
  • glycidol
  • isoprene
  • methyleugenol
  • o-nitroanisole
  • nitromethane
  • phenolphthalein
  • tetrafluoroethylene
  • tetranitromethane
  • vinyl fluoride
  • 1,6-dinitropyrene
  • 1,8-dinitropyrene
  • 6-nitrochrysene
  • 4-nitropyrene

The following list of chemicals and compounds have been classified as “reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogen” and have, as such, been added to the EPCRA section 313 list of toxic chemicals.

Want to find out if any of the chemicals in your home or workplace are listed as toxic? You can search by chemical on the CDC NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards.

GHS is going to mean a whole lot of work

In case you aren’t familiar with it GHS stands for Global Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals. What we are essentially talking about here is a standardization of all MSDS sheets, not only nationally (within the US) but internationally as well. This means that if I produce anything that has an MSDS sheet associated with it I’m going to have to redo that MSDS sheet (as well as the labels that go on all the products) to conform to the new GHS standard.

Because different countries have different safety standards and requirements, the old MSDSs will have to be updated to give the type of information that each country requires. In the words of the United States Department of Labor “OSHA’s proposal to adopt the GHS will not change the framework and scope of the current HCS but will help ensure improved quality and more consistency in the classification and labeling of all chemicals. This will enhance worker comprehension, resulting in appropriate handling and use of chemicals.” In other words, not necessarily new information, just better information and consistency across the board for all chemicals.

What does this mean?

  • 40 million workers are going to be affected by this change in the US alone
  • It will impact some 5 million workplaces
  • It will require changes and rewriting of some 1 million documents
  • It will cost $11 million a year to update all the MSDS sheet (for a total of 3 years)
  • It will cost $42 million a year to retrain workers on the new standard

While this may sound like a lot of money, OSHA estimates that the new standard will save 43 lives and prevent 585 injuries and illness a year for an annual savings of $754 million a year.

Take heart if you are in one of these categories, this isn’t going to happen overnight. The proposed time frame at this point in time is 3 years to complete compliance. That should give you a little time to get things straightened out.

You can view “Facts on Aligning the Hazard Communication Standard to the GHS” on the OSHA website.

Solvent Safety

We’ve all heard about the dangers of sniffing glue. What you may not realize, however, is that you might be getting a high exposure count to the very chemicals that kids are using to get high without even knowing it. And it can be doing you as much harm.

The problem resides in the fact that these harmful chemicals can get into your system in one or more of several manners:

Absorption – Are you cleaning your tools, paint brushes, bearings, etc… with solvents? Any contact with solvents where it comes into direct contact with the skin can result in absorption into the body.

Ingestion – Solvent particles become airborne and eventually alight on anything and everything around. Anything that you put into your mouth can contain these chemical particles. Do you nervously chew your nails? Do you eat your lunch in the same area as the solvents are used? You may be further introducing solvents into your system.

Inhalation – This is, of course, the most obvious one. Airborne particles gain access to your body through your lungs whenever a respirator is not used properly or not used at all. Just because you can’t smell it doesn’t mean it’s not there.

Injection – Solvents can gain direct access to the blood stream whenever the skin is punctured. Cuts, scrapes or punctures in the skin can allow the solvents to get to vital organs much faster.

There are three major safety issues associated with solvents:

  1. Many solvents are flammable so make sure that any and all ignition sources are removed from the area(s) where solvents are being used.
  2. Solvents can have short-term harmful effects that include dizziness, nausea, eye irritation, skin irritation, lungs irritation, headaches and more. These effects can also impair judgment which might cause you to not realize that you need to remove yourself from the area.
  3. Solvents can have long-term harmful effects that are cumulative in nature. Over time, these solvents can cause damage to vital organs like the kidneys, the lungs or the liver.

Safety precautions to use when using solvents

  • Keep ignition sources away from areas where solvents are being used
  • Use adequate ventilation. Work outside if possible, use fume extractors or blowers when working indoors
  • Wear the appropriate PPE (Gloves, respirators, safety glasses or goggles, coveralls, etc…).
  • Don’t eat in the areas where solvents are used
  • Wash up after working with solvents to reduce the risk of ingesting. Use non-solvent base cleaners to wash up with.
  • Keep lids on all solvent containers to reduce vapors.
  • Read the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) for the solvents you are using. If a respirator is required if will probably be a Organic Vapor cartridge which will be color coded as pink.