Date: Wed, 25 Jun 2008 14:25:43 -0400
Reply-To: "David C. Finster" <dfinster**At_Symbol_Here**WITTENBERG.EDU>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: "David C. Finster" <dfinster**At_Symbol_Here**WITTENBERG.EDU>
Subject: Re: Laboratory chemical labelling systems query
In-Reply-To: <AA7AA732-F9D6-431F-8A1C-5D659D9054E8**At_Symbol_Here**>
Ralph has asked the right question, of course:  "Do you have a clear sense 
of which audience you're working to inform?"

My sense is that we an obligation to inform two distinct audiences.  1)  Fi
refighters will look for NFPA diamonds, and we are obligated to provide tha
t information.  Having said that (and now speaking as a volunteer firefight
er) I don't think that in middle of a raging fire a firefighter is going to
 care about looking at hundreds of labels in a stockroom, particularly when
 the volumes and amounts are relatively small.  Firefighters will care more
 about 55 gallons drums.  Labs and stockrooms with "many chemicals" are "ta
rget hazards" and (hopefully) the responding department will have a pre-pla
n about what to do and what not to do.  2)  My concern, and source of my qu
estion, is more about how we label chemicals for the laboratorians and, in 
particular, students in academic labs.  They are likely to be trained (I ho
pe!) on the NFPA diamonds because this symbols are ubiquitous.  But, we kno
w these diamonds are not ideal under ambient lab conditions.  They sometime
s "overstate" the hazards with regard to health and reactivity.  Perhaps th
is is OK but I'd prefer to use a system designed for laboratorians and this
 is the motivation of my original question.  Thus, seems like two labels mi
ght be best.

(FYI, some folks have responded to my initial query privately.  I'll write 
a response to the list that collects what I've learned if that seems approp
riate and possible!)


David C. Finster
Professor of Chemistry
University Chemical Hygiene Officer
Department of Chemistry
Wittenberg University
From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU] On Behalf Of Ralph Stu
art [rstuart**At_Symbol_Here**UVM.EDU]
Sent: Wednesday, June 25, 2008 1:49 PM
To: DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Laboratory chemical labelling systems query

> > what chemical labelling system they use in labs and stockrooms,
> particularly with regard to safety diagrams and pictograms.

My experience is that one labelling system doesn't fit all the various
audiences interested in the information. Emergency responders have
very different interests in chemicals than people in laboratories.
We've focused on the laboratorians' needs for container labelling and
emergency responders' needs through a homemade online system somewhat
similar to the NFPA system. The latter is still in development, but
the general idea (similar to Stanford's Chemtracker system) is to take
information from laboratory workers and convert it into something
useful for emergency planning purposes.

Do you have a clear sense of which audience you're working to inform?

- Ralph

Ralph Stuart, CIH
Environmental Safety Manager
University of Vermont
Environmental Safety Facility
667 Spear St. Burlington, VT  05405

fax: (802)656-8682

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