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For further information consult the additional tables at the Hazard Communication Definitions page. The HazCom Definitions page also has my comments on how the regulations of various agencies interact.
In the following sections I will discuss what I know of Hazard Communication issues in Canada and the US; I will also mention what I know of Mexico's Secretariat of Labour and Social Security's (STPS's) worker health and safety requirements. Please note that my knowledge of Mexico's regulations is limited: I have not taught there in several years, and Mexico has recently implemented many new transportation regulations as a result of agreements with Canada and the United States.
Hazard communication initiatives came from two sources. On Saturday,
July 10th, 1976 a cloud of dioxin was released from a chemical plant in
near Milan, causing several thousand people to develop a skin
disorder called chloracne and leading to long-term health problems. This lead
to the European Economic Community's
Then on the night of December 2, 1984, a Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal,
India released a plume of methyl isocyanate, killing over 2000 people.
World-wide concern led to world-wide initiatives.
In the United States the Congress passed the Superfund Amendment and Reauthorization Act (SARA) and Emergency Planning and Community Right-Know Act (EPCRA). As part of SARA and EPCRA manufacturers had to publish MSDS, employers had to train workers, and businesses with toxic substances had to notify their local fire departments and Local Emergency Planning Committees of their emergency / contingency plans and of any exteremely hazardous substances on their sites.
In the meantime, industry was taking action to identify chemical hazards in the workplace. In Canada, the WHMIS regulations on Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) were implemented by the provinces based upon a federal program. This was the first program to lead to uniform nation-wide workplace regulations in that country. Similar initiatives in the US and other countries led to standardized Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS).
Wherever you are in the U.S., Canada or Mexico some type of Safety Data Sheet is used for workplace controlled products / hazardous chemicals. In Canada, this program is regulated through the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS); in the US, through OSHA's Hazard Communication/"Right to Know" regulations. In Mexico a similar program is administered by the Secretariat of Labour and Social Security (STPS). Of course MSD sheets are not available for everything--for example, hazardous wastes do not require MSDS in Canada or the US, nor do consumer products. A good Right-to-Know / WHMIS program will include:
In the US and Canada some materials do not require Material Safety Data Sheets.
Also many substances pose a threat to public health and the environment as well
as to workers. Even though these substances may not have MSDS, there is
normally other information available. For example, there may be pesticide markings or
Of particular interest are dangerous or hazardous wastes. When an MSDS is not available a worker or responder can look for other information, such as information from a remediation/clean-up site characterization, or a waste "profile" for disposal. Wastes from US Superfund sites must be characterized, and are regulated under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liabiliy Act (CERCLA) and the Superfund Amendment and Reauthoriztion Act (SARA). Shipping papers may also provide needed information on the hazards in a waste.
Other information may be available for toxic and hazardous wastes in the US. Asbestos and Polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) wastes are regulated by the Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA), which gives specific waste definitions. Hazardous wastes are regulated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), which also uses strict definitions. RCRA hazardous wastes use "waste codes." These codes are based on EPA lists and descriptions of characteristics. Several waste codes may apply to the same waste if it is covered by more than one category. See the RCRA Waste Code table for more information.
|Unfortunately, these common practices don't help responders from outside that industry. To ensure that workers and responders can easily identify dangerous goods or hazardous materials, shipments of these materials use standard names and other nomenclature as well as easily identifiable placards and labels. These names and information are put on shipping papers, such as Bills of Lading and US Uniformed Hazardous Waste Manifests.||
In Canada these names and numbers are regulated by the Transport of Dangerous Goods Act and Regulations (TDGA / TDGR) and administered by Transport Canada. They are found in Schedule II, List I and II of the TDGR. As a rule, almost all of the names parallel the US names, because they come from the same international agreements. As an exception to this rule the "Waste Type" names parallel US EPA hazardous waste codes (e.g., both Canadian "Waste Type 77, Class 3, NA 9377, PG II" and the US EPA waste code K051 are "API separator sludge from the petroleum refining industry").
In the US these names and numbers are mandated by the Hazardous Materials Regulations and administered by the Office of Hazardous Materials of the US Department of Transportation's (US DOT) Research and Special Projects Administration (RSPA). They are found in Part 172.101 of Title 49 of the US Code of Federal Regulations (49 CFR 172.101).
|Along with the designated SHIP information, Mexico, Canada and the US all use container labels and vehicle or bulk-container placards to note the presence of hazardous materials. These are the diamond-shaped markings on small containers like drums (labels) and on vehicles (placards). The shape and color are also based on international standards. Take one example: Flammable Liquid, n.o.s. (a technical name), Class 3, UN1993, Packing Group (I, II, or III) is a standard name tied into the Emergency Response Guides / Guidebooks used in North America; the red-shaped Flammable Liquid label or placard is likewise a standard. Labels go on non-bulk containers like drums. Placards go on bulk containers such as vehicles.||
In 1996 Canada, the US, and Mexico published a joint North American Emergency Response Guidebook that replaced the Canadian CANUTEC Dangerous Goods Initial Emergency Response Guide and the US Department of Transportation Emergency Response Guidebook. While this guide did not include basic container recognition (the graphics on the accompanying HazMat Transport page are partly based on the old Canadian CANUTEC guidebook and my experience), it did combine the best of the Canadian guidebook's response pages with the Initial Isolation and Protective Distances charts for Poison by Inhalation Hazards (PIHs).
40 CFR 302.6 EPA requires persons in charge of facilities (including transport vehicles, vessels and aircraft) to notify the NRC report any release of a an RQ of hazardous substance as soon as that person has knowledge of the release.
(c) Each carrier making a report under this section shall also make the report required by 171.16.
Certain releases during transportation - and that includes shipping and receiving - must be reported immediately. Other releases must be reported later. This is what 49 CFR 171.15 requires for immediate reporting:
49 CFR 171.15(a) At the earliest practicable moment, each carrier who transports hazardous materials (including hazardous wastes) shall give notice in accordance with paragraph (b) of this section after each incident that occurs during the course of transportation (including loading, unloading and temporary storage) in which:
1. As a direct result of hazardous materials-
(b) Each notice required by paragraph (a) of this section shall be given to the Department by telephone (toll-free) on 800-424-8802. Notice involving infectious substances (etiologic agents) may be given the Director, Center for Disease Control, U.S. Public Health Service, Atlanta, Ga., 1-800-232-0124, in place of the notice to the Department or (toll call) on 202-267-2675. Each notice must include the following information:
(i) A person is killed; or
2. Fire, breakage, spillage, or suspected radioactive contamination occurs involving shipment of radioactive material (see also 174.45, 175.45, 176.48, and 177.807 of this subchapter); or
(ii) A person receives injuries requiring his or her hospitalization; or
(iii) Estimated carrier or other property damage exceeds $50,000; or
(iv) An evacuation of the general public occurs lasting one or more hours; or
(v) One or more major transportation arteries or facilities are closed or shut down for one hour or more; or
(vi) The operational flight pattern or routine of an aircraft is altered; or
3. Fire, breakage, spillage, or suspected contamination occurs involving shipment of infectious substances (etiologic agents); or
4. There has been a release of a marine pollutant in a quantity exceeding 450 L (119 gallons) for liquids or 400 kg (882 pounds) for solids; or
5. A situation exists of such a nature (e.g., a continuing danger to life exists at the scene of the incident) that, in the judgment of the carrier, it should be reported to the Department even though it does not meet the criteria of paragraph (a) (1), (2) or (3) of this section.
(c) Each carrier making a report under this section shall also make the report required by 171.16.
If you need more information, I recommend that you try the following sources:
|Hazard Communication||Joint N. America Effort||Canadian Agencies||USA Agencies||Mexican Agencies||Private Sector Organizations||HazMat Page|
This page, of course, does not represent my employer's views--just my own! I work with Safety-Kleen (ex-Laidlaw Environmental Services), and I've been dealing with aspects of chemical response since 1982, when I graduated from Hardin-Simmons University and was commissioned in the U.S. Army's Chemical Corps. I spent a very enjoyable decade on active duty before volunteering for President Bush's Drawdown bonus. I am also a Certified Environmental Trainer through the National Environmental Training Association, was a member of the National Fire Protection Association, and a professional member of the American Society of Safety Engineers.