Chemical Safety-Environmental Health & Safety - Carnegie Mellon University

Chemical Safety


Hazardous chemicals are used in a wide variety of operations and activities here at Carnegie Mellon.  Our Chemical Safety Program addresses proper use, handling and storage of these materials.  These activities are essential to a safe working environment.  Please select the “Program Management” link to the left to view the various portions of our chemical safety activities.

Hazard Communication Standard: OSHA Updates for 2012

The OSHA Hazard Communication Standard (Haz Comm) addresses worker safety from hazardous materials in non-laboratory settings.  (Hazardous material safety in laboratories is addressed by a difference regulation.)

In March of 2012, OSHA made some significant changes to the original Hazard Communication Standard.  The changes were mainly to bring the old standard into alignment with the Global Harmonization System (GHS) of classification and labeling of chemicals, which is what much of the rest of the world uses already.

The information below summarizes the changes and how they will affect workers at Carnegie Mellon.

  1. Materials Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) will now be called simply Safety Data Sheets (SDS).  In reality, we suspect the term MSDS will continue on, though, possibly with both terms used interchangeably.
  2. A new set of hazard pictograms will be used on both labels and SDS.  EH&S has prepared a Fact Sheet which outlines each of the new pictograms, what they mean, and the pictogram that they replace.  Find it HERE.
  3. On the SDS, there is also a new system of classification of chemical hazards which is, unfortunately, fairly complicated that the previous systems we are used to, such as the 0 to 4 NFPA system, which uses the warning diamond pictured below.  There is an additional Fact Sheet which should help you through this change, and you can find it HERE.


There are a number of deadlines associated with the updated standard, which may affect you:

  • You should start to see the new pictograms on both MSDS, SDS and labels right now, though a manufacturer technically has until June of 2015 to comply.
  • Even if you have received Hazard Communication training from us in the past, you will need to be re-trained prior to December of 2013.  Classes will be announced over the next year or more, and previous trainees will be contacted directly about updated training options.
  • We (the university) have until June of 2016 to update our written Hazard Communication Program and provide training on all new hazards, though I anticipate we will be done with this much sooner.


Remember that all of the other portions of the Hazard Communication Standard remain in effect including:

  • The need to have an accurate, updated chemical inventory (for Carnegie Mellon, this means an updated inventory in ChemTracker.
  • All personnel trained in Haz Comm within 30 days of employment.
  • All personnel must have easy access to MSDS/SDS, and our current written Hazard Communication Written Program (see links from the EH&S Chemical Safety web site.)

Office: MI 313
Phone: (412) 268-1493
Contact: Mark Banister


Office: FMSB 3rd Floor
Phone: (412) 268-3221
Contact: Michael Patrick

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