Facilities Management

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Hazard Communication/Right To Know/MSDS

Western Illinois University will provide information to our employee's to comply with the Illinois Toxic Substance Disclosure to Employee's Act (P. A. 83-240) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Hazard Communication Standard (39 CFR 1910, 1200), often called the Illinois Right to Know Law. The following program has been developed by Human Resources and Facilities Management to provide information to address the required elements of the law.

Written Hazard Communication Program

  1. Signage
  2. Material Safety Data Sheets Access
  3. Labeling
  4. Training of Employees

Facilities Management employees will be given copies of this program at initial employment and whenever changes and additions are made to their work place.


Western Illinois University is required to post signs which inform employees of their rights under the Right to Know Act. The RTK signs which summarize your rights under the law have been posted in all University buildings on the information bulletin boards.

Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)

The Right to Know Act requires the University to keep on file a MSDS for each toxic substance in the work place. A toxic substance is any material which can cause either long-term or short-term health effect. Under the RTK law any product which contains at least 1% of a chemical on the Illinois Department of Labor Toxic Substance list is considered to be toxic. If the chemical ingredients is a carcinogen (it can cause cancer), it only has to be .1% of the mixture for the product to be classified as a toxic substance. The MSDS lists all hazardous ingredients and describes the physical properties, safe handling procedures and health hazards of the product.
The MSDS will provide information on specific products and will be broken into the following eight basic areas:

  1. Identity of the Product - the name, address and emergency phone number of the manufacturer.
  2. Ingredients - Common name of the chemical and other identification information.
  3. Physical Characteristics - This section includes information of the physical description of the product i.e. Melton's point, specific gravity, appearance and odor.
  4. Fire and Explosion Hazard Data - Information concerning flash point, LEL (Lower Explosion Limit), UEL (Upper Explosion Limit).
  5. Reactivity - Information on stability and conditions to avoid are found in this section.
  6. Health Hazards - This section will contain information on health risks if the product is inhaled by breathing, ingested through mouth, or absorbed through the skin. If the chemical will cause cancer or other health risks. Signs and symptoms of chemical exposure will be listed in this section.
  7. Safe Handling Precautions - This section will provide safe handling procedures, safe methods of storage, use and disposal.
  8. Control Measures - This section describes the protective equipment (PPE) while handling the chemical. Other procedures that are listed on many MSDS are ventilation and personal hygiene practices.

You, your representative, or your physician may request in writing, a MSDS for any toxic substance in your work area. As your employer, the University has 10 days to give the data sheet to the requesting party or give proof that a data sheet has been requested from the manufacturer of the product.
If your request is refused or ignored, after the 10 days waiting period, you may refuse to work with the substance and you should contact the Illinois Department of Labor for advice or to file a complaint. MSDS's will be made accessible to employees for at least 10 years after the product is no longer used, produced or stored at the work place.
You may not be, and will not be, discharged, disciplined, or discriminated against for exercising your rights under the law. If you believe your rights are denied, you or your representative may file a complaint with the Department of Labor. If you feel that a chemical which is not a toxic chemical should be so designated, you may petition the Department of Labor to add the chemical to the list. The Department of Labor will consider your petition at a public hearing held annually.
The Facilities Management MSDS master list is maintained at the Environmental Health and Safety Office. Requests for MSDS's should be made to your supervisor, Curt Samson or Don Mutch at the Facilities Management Physical Plant Office. Every effort will be made to obtain MSDS from vendors for products not found in the master file.


Pipes, vats and other fixed containers of toxic substances should have signs, operating instructions or other such written materials available in the work area. Be sure the written warnings clearly identify the fixed containers to which they apply. -Western Illinois University is required to label toxic substances in the work place with the chemical name or the product name and a hazard warning. Most existing labels are sufficient and re-labeling is seldom necessary. The hazard warning can be in words, pictures, symbols or a combination of the three. The warning will usually be a statement of caution, such as flammability, corrosiveness, or inhalation hazard, which describes the potential hazard. Other hazards may exist, so you should read the product MSDS for more specific information.
A product which is mixed with another product, i.e. paint, or repackaged may need a different label. Any products which are transferred from a larger container to a smaller one must be labeled unless the container is 10 gallons or less and the substance will be used up during your work shift.
This secondary container must have the same label information identifying the chemical as the primary container. A proper label must contain the following elements:

  1. Labels must be in English.
  2. Labels must be legible and prominently displayed.
  3. Labels must provide identity of the chemical.
  4. Labels must give hazard warning such as flammability, toxic, corrosive, etc.
  5. Label must provide the name and address of the manufacturers.

The responsibility for proper labeling of secondary container falls to the employee that performs the transfer.


The typical training program may provide the following: - Initial training will be given during the new employee orientation. Follow up training will be given on an annual basis. The University will conduct annual training sessions. New employees will be trained prior to beginning their work assignments by the department supervisor(s).

  1. Completed Written Hazard Communication Program.
  2. The department's location and storage of chemicals used by the department.
  3. Departmental procedure for detection and response to spilled chemicals.
  4. Department's MSDS sheets location and availability.
  5. Description of department process and operation that may use chemical.


  • Action Level - A quantitative limit of a chemical, biological, or radiological agent at which actions are taken to prevent or reduce exposure or contact. Usually set at one-half of the Permissible Exposure Limit.
  • Acute - Severe, often dangerous conditions in which relatively rapid changes occur in a short period of time.
  • Acute Exposure - An intense exposure over a relatively short period of time.
  • Boiling Point - The temperature at which the vapor pressure of a liquid equals atmospheric pressure or a liquid changes to a vapor. The boiling point is usually expressed in degrees Fahrenheit. If a flammable material has a low boiling point it indicates a special fire hazard.
  • "C" or Ceiling - A description usually seen in connection with a published exposure limit. It refers to the concentration that should not be exceeded, even for an instant. It may be written as TLV-C or Threshold Limit Value-Ceiling
  • Chemical - As broadly applied to the chemical industry, an element or a compound produced by chemical reactions on a large scale for either direct industrial or consumer use or for reaction with other chemicals.
  • Chemical Reaction - A change in the arrangement of atoms or molecules to yield substances of different composition and properties.
  • Chronic - Persistent, prolonged or repeated conditions or an illness such as black lung disease which occurs over a long period of exposure.
  • Chronic Exposure - A prolonged exposure occurring over a period of days, weeks or years.
  • Combustible - According to the DOT and NFPA, combustible liquids are those having a flash point at or above 100°F (37.8°C), or liquids that will burn. They do not ignite as easily as flammable liquids. However, combustible liquids can be ignited under certain circumstances, and must be handled with caution. Substances, such as wood, paper, etc., are termed "Ordinary Combustibles".
  • Corrosive - A substance that according to the DOT, causes visible destruction or permanent changes in human skin tissue at the site of contact or is highly corrosive to steel.
  • Degree of Hazard - A relative measure of how much harm a substance can do.
  • Dose - An amount of a substance given or exposed to over time.
  • Dyspnea - Shortness of breath, difficult or labored breathing.
  • First Responder - The first trained personnel to arrive on the scene of a hazardous material incident. Usually officials from local emergency services, fire-fighters, and police.
  • Flammable Liquid - According to the DOT and NFPA a flammable liquid is one that has a flash point below 100°F (see Flash Point).
  • Hazard - A circumstance or condition that can do harm. Hazards are categorized into four groups: Biological, chemical, radiation, and physical.
  • Hazardous Material - Any substance or compound that has the capability of producing adverse effects on the health and safety of human.
  • Hazardous Sample - Samples that are considered to contain high concentrations of contaminants.
  • Hazardous Substance - (1) A material and its mixtures or solutions that is identified by the "E" in Column 1 of the Hazardous Materials Table, CFR 49, Section 172.1 when offered for transportation in one package, or in one transport vehicle if not packaged, and when the quantity of the material therein equals or exceeds the reportable quantity. (2) Any substance designated pursuant to Section 311(b)(2), (a) of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, (b) any element, compound, mixture, solution, or substance designated pursuant to Section 102 or this Act, (c) any hazardous waste having the characteristics identified under or listed pursuant to Section 3001 of the Solid Waste Hazardous Disposal Act (but not including any waste under the Solid Waste Disposal Act which has been suspended by Act of Congress), (d) any toxic pollutant listed under Section 307(a) of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, (e) any hazardous air pollutant listed under Section 112 of the Clean Air Act, (f) any imminently hazardous chemical substance or mixture with respect to which the Administrator has taken action pursuant to Section 7 of the Toxic Substance Control Act. The term does not include petroleum, including crude oil or any fraction thereof which is not otherwise specifically listed or designated as a hazardous substance under subparagraphs (a) through (f) of this definition, and the term does not include natural gas, natural gas liquids, liquified natural gas, or synthetic gas usable for fuel (of mixtures of natural gas and such as synthetic gas).
  • Ingestion - Taking a substance into the body through the mouth as food, drink, medicine, or unknowingly as on contaminated hands or cigarettes, etc.
  • Inhalation - The breathing in of an airborne substance that may be in the form of gases, fumes, mists, vapors, dusts, or aerosols.
  • Irritant - A substance that produces an irritating effect when it contacts skin, eyes, nose, or respiratory system.
  • Lethal Concentration - The concentration of an air contaminant that will kill all of the test animals in a group within the first 30 days following exposure.
  • Lethal Dose 50 (LD50) - The dose of a substance or chemical that will kill 50 percent of the test animals in a group within the first 30 days following exposure.
  • Limited Quantity - With the exception of Poison E materials, the minimum amount of a hazardous material for which there is a specific labeling and packaging.
  • Odor Threshold - The minimum concentration of a substance at which a majority of test subjects can detect the substance's characteristic odor.
  • Oral - Having to do with the mouth.
  • Oxidation - The process of combining oxygen with some other substance or a chemical change in which an atom loses electrons.
  • Oxidizer - Is a substance that gives up oxygen easily to stimulate combustion of organic material.
  • Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) - An exposure limit that is published and enforced by OSHA as a legal standard. PEL may be either a time-weighted average (TWA) exposure limit (8 hour), a 15-minute short term exposure limit (STEL), or a ceiling (C). The PEL's are found in Tables Z-1, Z-2, and Z-3 of OSHA regulations 1910.1000 (see also TLV).
  • Personal Protective Equipment - Any device or clothing worn by the worker to protect against hazards in the environment. Examples are respirators, gloves, and chemical splash goggles.
  • Polymerization - A substance's susceptibility to undergoing a chemical reaction or change that may result in dangerous side effects, such as explosion, burning, and corrosive or toxic emissions. The conditions that cause the reaction, such as heat, other changes and dropping will usually be specified as "Conditions to Avoid" when a chemical's reactivity is discussed on a MSDS.
  • Respirator - A device that is designed to protect the wearer from inhaling harmful contaminants.
  • Respiratory Hazard - A particular concentration of an airborne contaminant that enters the body by way of the respiratory system or by being breathed into the lungs and results in some body function.
  • Response Activities - Activities taken to recognize, evaluate, and control an incident.
  • Safety - Freedom from man, equipment, material, or environmental actions that result in injury or illness.
  • Short Term Exposure Limit - Represented as STEL or TLV-STEL, this is the maximum concentration to which workers can be exposed for a short period of time (usually 15 minutes) for only four times throughout the day with at least one hour between exposures. Also the daily TLV-TWA must not be exceeded.
  • Skin - This designation sometimes appears alongside a TLV or PEL. It refers to the possibility of absorption of the particular chemical through the skin and eyes. Thus, protection of large surface areas of skin should be considered to prevent skin absorption so that the TLV is not exceeded or counteracted.
  • Synonym - Another name by which the same chemical may be known.
  • Threshold Limit Value (TLV) - Airborne concentrations of substances devised by the ACGIH that represent conditions under which it is believed that nearly all workers may be exposed day after day with no adverse effect, TLV's are advisory exposure guidelines, not legal standards, that are based on evidence from industrial experience, animal studies, or human studies when they exist. There are three different types of TLV's. They are: Time Weighted Average (FLV-TWA), Short Term Exposure Limit (TLV-STEL), and Ceiling (TLV-C), (see also PEL).
  • Time Weighted Average - The average time, over a given work period (e.g. 8-hour workday), of a persons exposure (TWA) to a chemical or agent. The average is determined by sampling for the contaminant throughout the time period. Represented as TLV-TWA.
  • Toxicity - The potential of a substance to exert a harmful effect on humans or animals and a description of the effect and the conditions or concentration under which the effect takes place.
  • Trade Name - The commercial name or trademark by which a chemical is known. One chemical may have a variety of trade names depending on the manufacturers or distributors involved.
  • Upper Explosive Limit - Also known as Upper Flammable Limit, is the highest concentration (expressed in percent of vapor or gas in the air by volume) of a substance that will burn or explode when an ignition source is present. Theoretically above this limit, the mixture is said to be too "RICH" to support combustion. The difference between the LEL and UEL constitutes the flammable range or explosive range of a substance. That is, if the LEL is 1 ppm and the UEL is 5 ppm, then the explosive range of the chemical is from 1 to 5 ppm. (See also LEL.)
  • Vapor - The gaseous form of substances which are normally in liquid or solid state (at room temperature and pressure). Vapors evaporate into the air from liquid such as solvents. Solvents with low boiling points will evaporate readily.