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June 01, 2010
Safety 101: Glossary of Workplace Safety Terms A - C

This glossary contains terms you may run across on this site or in some other safety context. Not included are very common words, words that usually have their ordinary dictionary meaning, and words that are topics on the site.

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ACGIH—American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists.  A professional organization devoted to worker health protection.  In particular, the organization publishes “Threshold Limit Values for Chemical Substances in the Work Environment” and the “Documentation of TLVs.”  The TLV booklet is one source which may be used in hazard determination.

ANSI—American National Standards Institute.  ANSI is a coordinating body of various trade, technical, professional, and consumer groups who develop voluntary standards.

Acute—An adverse effect on the human body with symptoms of high severity coming quickly to a crisis.  Acute effects are normally the result of short term exposures and short duration.

Acute toxicity—“Adverse effects occurring following oral or dermal administration of a single dose of a substance, or multiple doses given within 24 hours, or an inhalation exposure of 4 hours.” Acute toxicity is considered a health hazard under OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard at 29 CFR 1910.1200.

Aerosol—This is a solid or liquid particulate, natural or manmade, which can remain suspended in air.  Paint spray and smoke are examples of aerosols.

Aerosol, flammable—SEE FLAMMABLE AEROSOL

American National Standards Institute—SEE ANSI

American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists—SEE ACGIH

Asphyxiant—A chemical, usually in a gas or vapor state, which displaces oxygen or prevents its use in the body by other chemical means.  ALSO SEE:  BLOOD EFFECTS.

Assistant Secretary (OSHA)—“...means the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, U.S. Department of Labor, or designee.”

Autoignition temperature—This is the lowest temperature at which a substance will ignite and sustain combustion in the absence of an ignition source.  Toluene has an autoignition temperature of 896°F.  ALSO SEE:  FLASHPOINT.

Blasting agent (OSHA)—“...any material or mixture, consisting of a fuel and oxidizer, intended for blasting, not otherwise classified as an explosive and in which none of the ingredients are classified as an explosive, provided that the finished product, as mixed and packaged for use or shipment, cannot be detonated by means of a No. 8 test blasting cap when unconfined.”  ALSO SEE:  FLAMMABLE SOLID.

Blood Agents—These are chemicals such as carbon monoxide and the cyanides which act on the blood and the hematopoietic system and ultimately result in depriving body tissues of adequate oxygen.  ALSO SEE:  HEMATOPOIETIC SYSTEM.

Boiling point—The temperature at which a liquid changes its physical state to a gas.  Toluene has a boiling point of 231°F.  ALSO SEE:  MELTING POINT.

CAS Number—The CAS Number is an identification number assigned by the Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) of the American Chemical Society.  The CAS Number is used in various databases, including Chemical Abstracts, for identification and information retrieval.

CFR—Code of Federal Regulations.  This is the collection of rules and regulations originally published in the Federal Register by various governmental departments and agencies.  OSHA regulations are found in 29 CFR; EPA regulations are in 40 CFR; and Department of Transportation regulations in 49 CFR.

CPC—Chemical Protective Clothing.  This is special clothing which may be resistant to permeation, penetration, or degradation by a chemical.  Rubber boots, gloves, aprons, and suits are commonly used to protect workers from exposure to hazardous chemicals.  ALSO SEE:  PERMEATION, PENETRATION, DEGRADATION.

Carcinogen (OSHA)—“A substance or a mixture of substances which induce cancer or increase its incidence.”  A cancer is characterized by the proliferation of abnormal cells, sometimes in the form of a tumor.  Examples of carcinogens include asbestos, vinyl chloride, and benzene.

Catalyst—A chemical which changes the rate of a chemical reaction between two other chemicals without affecting the chemical itself.  ALSO SEE:  REACTIVITY.

Ceiling (ACGIH)—The Threshold Limit Value Ceiling (TLV-C) is “...the concentration that should not be exceeded during any part of the working exposure.”  ALSO SEE:  THRESHOLD LIMIT VALUE.

Chemical (OSHA)—OSHA’s definition of chemical “means any substance, or mixture of substances.”

Chemical Abstracts Service—SEE CAS NUMBER.

Chemical manufacturer (OSHA)—“...means an employer with a workplace where chemical(s) are produced for use or distribution.”  Manufacturers must evaluate the hazards of chemicals produced, label containers leaving the workplace, and obtain or develop an SDS for each chemical produced, as well as meet the requirements as an employer.

Chemical name (OSHA)—“...means the scientific designation of a chemical in accordance with the nomenclature system developed by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) or the Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) rules of nomenclature, or a name that will clearly identify the chemical for the purpose of conducting a hazard classification.”

Chemical protective clothing—SEE CPC.

Chronic—An adverse effect on the human body with symptoms which develop slowly over a long period of time or which frequently recur.  Chronic effects are the result of long term exposure and are of long duration.

Classification (OSHA)—“means to identify the relevant data regarding the hazards of a chemical; review those data to ascertain the hazards associated with the chemical; and decide whether the chemical will be classified as hazardous according to the definition of hazardous chemical in this section. In addition, classification for health and physical hazards includes the determination of the degree of hazard, where appropriate, by comparing the data with the criteria for health and physical hazards.” This definition refers to OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard at 29 CFR 1910.1200. ALSO SEE: HAZARDOUS CHEMICAL

Common name (OSHA)—“....means any designation or identification such as code name, code number, trade name, brand name or generic name used to identify a chemical other than by its chemical name.”

Compliance—This is the state of meeting all the requirements of the law.  The best way to be assured of being in compliance with OSHA is to be familiar with OSHA’s expectations.

Compressed gas (OSHA)—“A gas which when under pressure is entirely gaseous at -50°C (-58°F), including all gases with a critical temperature = -50°C (-58°F).”

Confined space “Confined space” means a space that:

  1. Is large enough and so configured that an employee can bodily enter and perform assigned work
  2. Has limited or restricted means for entry or exit (for example, tanks, vessels, silos, storage bins, hoppers, vaults, and pits are spaces that may have limited means of entry.)
  3. Is not designed for continuous employee occupancy.

Consumer products—Consumer products and hazardous substances as defined by the Consumer Product Safety Act are not subject to the labeling requirements of the Hazard Communication Standard when they are regulated under the Consumer Product Safety Act.

Container (OSHA)—“...means any bag, barrel, bottle, box, can, cylinder, drum, reaction vessel, storage tank, or the like that contains a hazardous chemical.  For purposes of this section, pipes or piping systems, and engines, fuel tanks, or other operating systems in a vehicle, are not considered to be containers.”  Please note that some state right to know laws do consider pipes to be containers. This definition refers to OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard at 29 CFR 1910.1200.

Corrosive (OSHA)—“A chemical that produces destruction of skin tissue, namely, visible necrosis through the epidermis and into the dermis, in at least 1 of 3 tested animals after exposure up to a 4-hour duration. Corrosive reactions are typified by ulcers, bleeding, bloody scabs, and, by the end of observation at 14 days, by discoloration due to blanching of the skin, complete areas of alopecia and scars.” Skin corrosion is considered a health hazard in OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard at 29 CFR 1910.1200.

Corrosive to metals (OSHA)—“A chemical which by chemical action will materially damage, or even destroy, metals.” Chemicals that are corrosive to metals are considered to be physical hazards under OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard at 29 CFR 1910.1200.

Cutaneous hazards—A chemical which affects the dermal layer of the body by causing rashes, irritation, or defatting of the skin.  Examples include ketones and chlorinated compounds.

Safety Glossary Terms D through H
Safety Glossary Terms I through Q
Safety Glossary Terms R through Z

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