Understanding Workplace Chemical Hazards in Hawaii

Understanding Workplace Chemical Hazards in Hawaii – OSHA Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) and Safety Data Sheets – Section 4 of the SDS, The First Aid Measures.

OSHA Hazard Communication Standard (OSHA 29 CFR 1910.1200(g)), (HCS for short) requires that makers, distributors or importers of chemicals provide a Safety Data Sheet that communicates the hazards associated with that chemical to those who will be transporting it, using it or handling it in their workplaces in Hawaii.  OSHA Hazard Communication Standard and Safety Data Sheets are there because chemicals have the potential to be dangerous to people of the Islands and natural environment of Hawaii.   At Pacific Safety Academy, we are all about preparing our class participants for the unexpected.  Understanding the important parts of the SDSs in your workplace, is a way to be prepared ahead of time for the unexpected chemical-related incident.  There is a lot of information on that SDS.  Some of that information may become immediately “super important” in a hurry in an emergency.  This is our little blog on one of the most important sections of Safety Data Sheet –The First Aid Measures.  But keep in mind, there is a lot more to that SDS and there is plenty of information on an average SDS to entertain and marvel the little chemist in everyone.

Is it called MSDS or SDS?  How do I locate the information I need on an SDS?
Safety Data Sheet (SDS) used to be called MSDS.  SDSs are now improved to contain sixteen subsections.  Comparison to the old one, the SDS content is more direct and the information you are looking for is easier to locate on that SDS now due to how the SDS is divided up.  If you need to look up a specific information on the SDS, just look under that heading.  SDS is like a well-organized grocery store, everything is in its place.

What does section 4 of SDS (First Aid Measures) talk about?
In your workplace, besides knowing what that chemical you are working with is (Section 1 of SDS), you got to know hazards it may cause (Section 2 of SDS) so you can avoid accidental exposure to the chemical and use the necessary PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) to stay safe.   But, in handling chemicals sometimes there is the worst-case scenario to deal with.

Oh No! Got a whiff of it, chugged it by accident or got it splashed on us…Now, what do we do? is the big question that is answered by section 4 of the SDS.

Section 4 of the Safety Data Sheet describes the initial care that should be given by untrained responders to an individual exposed to the harmful substance that SDS is associated with.  Here is what is on section four of the SDS:

  1. First Aid Instructions by routes of exposure.
    • What to do if the person inhaled the chemical.
    • What to do if the chemical got in their eye or their skin.
    • What to do if the person ate or drank the chemical.

Note:  Although not as common, a substance can also get into one’s system through a puncture or an open wound, so in certain cases that may also be a consideration.

  1. Description of what the person might be experiencing after the chemical exposure. A list of most important symptoms to watch out for, that has been documented when people were exposed to that chemical in the past.
    • Important symptoms that may show up right away after exposure to the chemical.
    • Important symptoms that may show up later.


  1. Recommendations for immediate medical care. If any, list of special treatments when exposed to this type of chemical.

At the Pacific Safety Academy, SDSs are discussed in more detail in our First Aid courses as part of the curriculum to meet OSHA Workplace First Aid Standard.  We also discuss SDSs very extensively in our Instructor-led Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) Courses for companies and employees needing to meet OSHA and DOT requirements.

If you live in Hawaii, classes are available at our training facility in downtown Honolulu and through onsite group training for businesses all over the Islands.