Safe Handling of Chemicals

Handle Chemicals properly

For a chemical to be handled safely, adequate information about the hazards associated with it should be communicated to the users. It is usually done through:

Product Label This is usually attached to the container and it must give information on the chemical or product name, the chemical hazards and the precautions that users should take into account to ensure safe use. It also contains hazard pictograms or danger symbols which gives you a quick indication of the hazards associated with the chemical.

Safety Data Sheet A Safety Data Sheet (SDS), previously called a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), is a document that provides information on the properties of hazardous chemicals and how they affect health and safety in the workplace. For example an SDS includes information on:

  • the identity of the chemical,
  • health and physicochemical hazards,
  • safe handling and storage procedures,
  • emergency procedures, and
  • disposal considerations.
  • Safety data sheets must contain the following headings:
  • Identification of the substance/preparation and of the company/ undertaking (must be identical to that on the label.
  • Composition/ information on ingredients’ chemical names.
  • Hazards identification (a summary of the most important features including adverse health effects).
  • First aid measures.
  • Fire-fighting measures.
  • Accidental release measures-covering safety, environmental protection and clean up.

Other information  to be included are Handling and storage-recommendation for best practice especially storage conditions and incompatible materials; Exposure controls/ personal protection-any specific recommendations and PPE; physical and chemical properties-stability, physical and solubility properties;  stability and reactivity- conditions and materials to avoid; toxicological information-acute and chronic effect, routes of exposure and symptoms.

The following must also be included: Ecological information-environmental fate of the chemical and its effect;  disposal consideration-specific dangers; transport information-special precautions; regulatory information-overall classification of the product and any specific legislation that may be applicable; and Other information – information not captured in the preceding sections like explanations of abbreviations used etc.

Hazard Pictograms . A hazard pictogram is an image on a label that includes a warning symbol and specific colours intended to provide information about the damage a particular substance or mixture can cause to our health or the environment.

Sign up for a Graduate Certificate Course in Occupational Safety and Health Policy Making with University of Nigeria & Shell Petroleum Center for Environmental Management and Control.


Chinedu is passionate about occupational safety and health. He keeps following trends in industrial safety. Chinedu currently lives in Ikare-Akoko, Ondo State, Nigeria.

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