I am the assistant principal responsible for the safe use and storage of chemicals and products in our school. Do you have any suggestions on how to effectively manage chemical safety?
All school staff that use chemicals are responsible to ensure that chemicals and their wastes are handled and disposed of appropriately. NHPPP suggests that your school (or school district) form a safety committee. Safety committees usually meet monthly to ensure that chemicals and products are being handled properly, and that all appropriate state and federal regulations are being met. The safety committee can assist in maintaining school inventories; hazardous materials training; alert the local fire department of chemicals being stored and used in the school; and assist in the necessary record keeping requirements.
How should our school store our science laboratory chemicals?
Chemicals should be stored according to their hazard classification. Chemicals should not be stored alphabetically, as incompatible chemicals could interact and become explosive. Flammable chemicals should be stored separately, in a flammable storage cabinet, away from any oxidizing chemicals. Other hazard classifications include water reactive chemicals, poisons, organic and inorganic acids, bases, and radioactive materials.
I know our school should be maintaining MSDSs for all our chemicals and products. What type of program should we have in place for MSDSs?
When purchasing chemicals and products (even cleaning supplies), the manufacturer must supply a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). MSDSs are prepared by the manufacturer and contain information pertaining to the chemical’s flammability, reactivity, health effects, incompatibilities, and government regulations for transportation and proper disposal. As required by New Hampshire RSA 277-A ("Worker’s Right to Know Law"), a copy of each MSDS must be kept in the same area that the chemicals are being stored, and made easily available to employees who come in contact with chemicals.
Contact the NH Department of Labor at (603) 271-6850 for questions regarding occupational health and safety issues in public schools. It is the school’s responsibility to make sure that everyone who is likely to be exposed to a certain product or chemical knows how to access and read the MSDS. MSDSs should be updated every three years. Often, the easiest and most accessible way to organize the MSDSs are alphabetically, in a three-ring binder, in the area where the products are being used. If a MSDS is not received with the product shipment, request one from the supplier. MSDSs should also be kept on file with the local fire department.
NH Department of Environmental Services | 29 Hazen Drive | PO Box 95 | Concord, NH 03302-0095
(603) 271-3503 | TDD Access: Relay NH 1-800-735-2964 | Hours: M-F, 8am-4pm