Safety and health newsletter for the Oregon construction industry

March 20, 2013

 

Hazard communication – do you know what's in that portable container?

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Last summer, a construction worker picked up a Powerade bottle – Powerade is a popular sports drink – from a subcontractor's storage area and took a drink of what he thought was water. In fact, the liquid was an epoxy hardener and he was hospitalized with serious internal injuries.

The words "Danger" and "Epoxy" were hand-printed on the bottle along with the image of a skull and cross bones.

As summer approaches, you'll likely see an increase in bottled thirst-quenchers, which are frequently reused as "portable" containers for something other than the original product. Never use a drink container for transferring hazardous chemicals, even if you write the word "Danger" or draw a skull and crossbones on it!

Paragraph 1910.1200(f)(8) of the Hazard Communication Standard – which applies to both general industry and construction workplaces – says that employers are not required to "label portable containers into which hazardous chemicals are transferred from labeled containers, and which are intended only for the immediate use of the employee who performs the transfer." (Italics added.)

What's important to remember about this requirement, however, is the term "immediate use," which means the container must be under the control of and used only by the person who transfers it from a labeled container – and it must be used during the work shift in which it was transferred. Unfortunately, this did not happen when the worker drank from the reused Powerade container.

Also, remember that Safety Data Sheets must be immediately available at the workplace to give workers information about the physical and health hazards of hazards chemicals they may be exposed to.
To learn more about labeling containers of hazardous chemicals, check out Oregon OSHA's new Guide to the GHS-aligned hazard communication standard.

Reprinting, excerpting, or plagiarizing any part of this publication is fine with us!

But remember: the information in this newsletter is intended to highlight safe work practices, but it does not replace Oregon OSHA workplace safety and health rules.

For information about Oregon OSHA services and answers to technical questions, call (503) 378-3272 or toll-free within Oregon, (800) 922-2689.