OSHA’s Website on Workplace Chemicals

By October 5, 2018 September 13th, 2019 ICC & Industry News, OSHA HazCom
Laptop on wood table

New Tools for Chemical Data

Chemical data and information are an integral part of my work. Data is needed for a shipper of hazardous materials or dangerous goods.  It is needed for an author of Safety Data Sheets (SDS). It may also be needed for OSHA workplace labeling. Sometimes you need several websites or resources open all at once to gather the needed data.

As such, OSHA has created a tool that you may find helpful. It is called the “OSHA Occupational Chemical Database”. The link for it is https://www.osha.gov/chemicaldata/.  It is a compilation of data from several agencies and organizations put into one online resource. The first paragraph on the site calls this “OSHA’s premier one-stop shop for occupational chemical information”. For chemicals found on the website, there is information on some or all of the following topics:

  • Physical/Chemical properties
  • Synonyms
  • Exposure limits – OSHA, NIOSH, ACGIH
  • NFPA ratings
  • Sampling information
  • Additional Resources and Literature References

The site is searchable mainly by chemical name, CAS number or alphabetically. There is even a feature that will allow you to search for chemicals under certain topics. The site allows you to group chemicals by Permissible Exposure Limits (PEL), Carcinogenic classification and Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health hazards (IDLH). That aside, once you have found your chemical, this site provides a variety of information. Simply click on the link listed in the “Get Report” column and away you go. Sounds like a way to make my life easier.

Now, for something that sounds so helpful, I had to try it out. My goal for any new tool is to try to break it. Yes, I’m that kind of person. No judgments, please.

Testing Out This New Tool

The first test was to use a common chemical name. I tried “acetone.” The search came back with 12 results. By scrolling down 4 entries, there it was. The report has a nice set of data. There was the CAS number, chemical formula and synonyms under the Chemical Identification heading.  Under Physical Properties you see flash point, boiling point, UEL, LEL, NFPA ratings, etc. There was then a large section on Monitoring Methods Used by OSHA and On-Site Sampling Techniques/Methods. Those went right by me as not information a shipper, author, or worker would need. Then a very nice list of exposure limits and a listing of additional resources.

12 results were found for “acetone”

Next was the CAS number search. I chose a recent number for a petroleum substance product on which I worked recently. The CAS was 64742-96-7. The site’s results came back with “No results” for that particular CAS number. Hmmm.

No results for “64742-96-7”

Finally, I tried “View all Chemicals with:” Carcinogenic classifications. It isn’t clear how that search should work. My assumption was to enter a CAS number for a known carcinogen like Styrene then select “Carcinogenic classifications” and hit enter. That search was still running after 15 minutes. Perhaps I did it wrong but after several variations on that same theme, I quit trying.

Searching using these functions cause a never ending “loading” animation.

Overall, this is a great attempt by OSHA to collect data into a useful and accessible format. Take some time and fiddle with it. See for yourself if it will be added to your arsenal of tools. I will certainly use it for the exposure limits and NFPA information.

To our customers, let me end with this. Call us today to see how we can help you with your transport identification decisions, SDS classifications and workplace labeling. We can do it all and get you any other items you will need for your chemicals. After all we have it “All Under One Roof” at ICC Compliance Center.

Paula Reavis

Paula Reavis

Degrees: BS in Science Education, BA in Chemistry, MA in School Counseling Certification: National Certified Counselor Paula Reavis comes to us with a teaching background and several years of experience in Hazard Communications. She is knowledgeable in HazCom2012, WHMIS (old/new), 49 CFR, IATA, IMDG and TDG. She started with the company in 2014, and is currently the Trainer for the US. She is active in several associations including NACD, IHMM and SCHC where she served as chair of the Membership and Awards Committee. She is based in St. Louis, Missouri.