Yes, Ralph, a lot of emphasis is on teaching how to use SDSs. Plus you legally have to teach "employees" about SDSs. So, even though many are not the best sources of info for what is being done, they don't feel there is time to teach other sources for which there is no requirement. I was fortunate that when I was a student here and the internet wasn't a source of info, we had copies of Merck, Lange's, and Sax in our lab and were expected to use it to determine the hazards. Now, the current organic chemist hadn't heard of any of them except for Merck and CRC. So I know other schools aren't teaching these either.
Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry
University of Michigan - Flint
From: ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety [mailto:DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**PRINCETON.EDU] On Behalf Of Stuart, Ralph
Sent: Monday, October 30, 2017 8:50 AM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] CSCs vs SDSs ?
> >We need second, third and fourth opinions.
Related to this, I remember in the early 90's when I was taking the 40 hour HAZWOPER course, the instructor emphasized that three sources had to agree on a piece of safety data before a decision on the data should be made. This was in the days of paper information, when MSDS's were unlikely to be easily accessible or up to date. So he was thinking in terms of the Chemical Dictionary, Saxs, the Merck Index, etc. At the time, this made a lot of sense to me, particularly in terms of an emergency response decision. However, a survey of risk assessment practices by academic chemists (to be published in JCHAS) soon indicates that chemists rely on the manufacturer's SDS to be the Source of Truth and rarely look for a second source of safety data when planning their work.
The thing I wonder about is that I suspect that flammability, toxicity, etc. data that can be regurgitated from database to database, so that it's unclear how many sources are actually agreeing with each other based on solid information and how many are just transferring data from potentially reliable sources. I wonder if someone with more recent HAZWOPER training knows if the standards for information quality have been adjusted in that field?
Thanks for any thoughts on this.
Ralph Stuart, CIH, CCHO
Environmental Safety Manager
Keene State College
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