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June 01, 2010
Safety 101: Glossary of Workplace Safety Terms D - H

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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DHHS—Department of Health and Human Services.

DOL—Department of Labor.

DOT—Department of Transportation.

Decomposition—Chemical breakdown of a material brought on by some adverse condition.

Degradation—This is the destructive effect a chemical may have on a piece of chemical protective clothing.  Protective clothing that has been degraded may be partially dissolved, softened, hardened, or completely destroyed.  If not destroyed, the material may have reduced strength and flexibility.  This may result in easy tearing or punctures, opening up a direct route to skin contact by penetration. ALSO SEE:  CPC.

Density—The density of a substance is a number which relates its weight to its volume.  Density values in references are given in grams/cubic centimeter (g/cc).  The densities of solids and liquids are usually compared to the density of water.  The density of water is 1.  Substances with a density greater than 1 sink in water and those less than 1 float.  Lead has a density of 11.35 g/cc.  Toluene has a density of 0.86 g/cc.  ALSO SEE:  SPECIFIC GRAVITY.

Dermal—Relating to the skin.  ALSO SEE:  CUTANEOUS HAZARDS.

Designated representative (OSHA)—“...means any individual or organization to whom an employee gives written authorization to exercise such employee’s rights under this section.  A recognized or certified collective bargaining agent shall be treated automatically as a designated representative without regard to written employee authorization.” 

Director (OSHA)—“...means the Director, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or designee.”  The Director may access upon request, the following documents:  Written methods and procedures used to determine the hazards of chemicals under evaluation, Company Hazard Communication Program, Safety Data Sheets.

Distilled spirits (beverage alcohols), wine, or malt beverage—As defined in the Federal Alcohol Administration Act (FAAA), are not subject to the label requirements of the Hazard Communication Standard when they are subject to the labeling requirements of the FAAA.

Distributor (OSHA)—“...means a business, other than a chemical manufacturer or importer, which supplies hazardous chemicals to other distributors or to manufacturing purchasers.”  Distributors have responsibility for proper labeling of containers and supplying SDSs to other distributors or manufacturing purchasers.

Documentation—Documentation is the record of compliance that a company should maintain.  The Hazard Communication Law requires that certain requirements be met including employee information and training.  Complete training record should be kept to prove compliance in the event of an inspection.  Other areas where documentation should be maintained include the written program, SDS maintenance, hazard determination, and quality assurance audits.

EPA—Environmental Protection Agency.  Responsible for enforcing regulations related to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, Toxic Substance Control Act, Superfund, and others.  ALSO SEE:  FIFRA, RCRA.

Evaporation rate—A measure of the length of time required for a given amount of a substance to evaporate, compared with the time required for an equal amount of ether or butyl acetate to evaporate.  The evaporation rate of toluene is 2.24 (butyl acetate = 1).

Explosive (OSHA)—“...any chemical compound, mixture, or device, the primary or common purpose of which is to function by explosion, i.e., with substantially instantaneous release of gas and heat, unless such compound, mixture, or device is otherwise specially classified by the US Department of Transportation; see 49 CFR Chapter I.  The term ‘explosives’ shall include all material which is classified as Class A, Class B, and Class C explosives by the U.S. Department of Transportation, and includes, but is not limited to dynamite, black powder, pellet powders, initiating explosives, blasting caps, electric blasting caps, safety fuse, fuse lighters, fuse igniters, squibs, cordeau detonant fuse, instantaneous fuse, igniter cord, igniters, small arms ammunition, small arms ammunition primers, smokeless propellant, cartridges for propellant-actuated power devices, and cartridges for industrial guns.  Commercial explosives are those explosives which are intended to be used in commercial or industrial operations.”  29 CFR 1910.109(a)(3).  ALSO SEE:  FLAMMABLE SOLID.

Explosive chemical (OSHA Hazard Communication Standard)—“...a solid or liquid chemical which is in itself capable by chemical reaction of producing gas at such a temperature and pressure and at such as peed as to cause damage to the surroundings.”


Exposed (OSHA)—“...means that an employee is subjected to a hazardous chemical in the course of employment through any route of entry (inhalation, ingestion, skin contact or absorption, etc.), and includes potential (e.g., accidental or possible) exposure.


FDA—Food and Drug Administration.  Responsible for enforcing regulations issued under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

FIFRA—Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act.  Labeling is not required for any pesticide as defined in FIFRA when subject to labeling regulations by EPA under FIFRA.

Flammable aerosol (OSHA)—“...any non-refillable receptacle containing a gas compressed, liquefied, or dissolved under pressure, and fitted with a release device allowing the contents to be ejected as particles in suspension in a gas, or as a foam, paste, powder, liquid, or gas.” OSHA considers aerosols to be flammable if they meet the definition at 29 CFR 1910.1200 B.3.2.2.

Flammable gas (OSHA)—“...means:  a gas having a flammable range with air at 20°C (68°F) and a standard pressure of 101.3 kPa (14.7 psi).”  ALSO SEE:  FLAMMABLE LIMITS, LFL, UFL.

Flammable limits—The range defined by the lower (LFL) and upper (UFL) flammability limit.  May sometimes be referred to as explosive limits (LEL & UEL) in other sources of information.  This is the range of concentrations in air that may readily ignite when exposed to a flame or spark.  ALSO SEE:  LFL, UFL.

Flammable liquid (OSHA)—“...means any liquid having a flashpoint of not more than 93°C (199.4°F).”  ALSO SEE:  FLASHPOINT, COMBUSTIBLE LIQUID.

Flammable solid (OSHA)—“...means a solid which is a readily combustible solid, or which may cause or contribute to fire through friction.”  ALSO SEE:  BLASTING AGENT, EXPLOSIVE.

Flashpoint (OSHA)—“...means the minimum temperature at which a liquid gives off vapor in sufficient concentration to form an ignitable mixture with air near the surface of the liquid, as determined by a method identified in Section B.6.3” of OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard at 29 CFR 1910.1200. ALSO SEE: FLAMMABLE LIQUID..

Foreseeable emergency (OSHA)—“...means any potential occurrence such as, but not limited to, equipment failure, rupture of containers, or failure of control equipment which could result in an uncontrolled release of a hazardous chemical into the workplace.”  This definition refers to 29 CFR 1910.1200 (b)(2):  “This section applies to any chemical which is known to be present in the workplace in such a manner that employees may be exposed under normal conditions of use or in a foreseeable emergency.”

Gas, flammable—SEE FLAMMABLE GAS.

HMIS—Hazardous Materials Identification System.  This is an integrated approach to working with hazardous materials.  The system includes information on assessing hazards, labeling and training.  It was devised by the National Paint and Coatings Association. 

Hazard category (OSHA)—“means the division of criteria within each hazard class, e.g., oral acute toxicity and flammable liquids include four hazard categories. These categories compare hazard severity within a hazard class and should not be taken as a comparison of hazard categories more generally.” This definition refers to the Hazard Communication Standard at 29 CFR 1910.1200.

Hazard class (OSHA)—“means the nature of the physical or health hazards, e.g., flammable solid, carcinogen, oral acute toxicity.” This definition refers to the Hazard Communication Standard at 29 CFR 1910.1200. ALSO SEE: CLASSIFICATION.

Hazard Communication Standard— The purpose of OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard, also known as HCS or HazCom, is to address the issue of classifying the potential hazards of chemicals and to ensure that employers and employees can identify and understand hazardous chemicals in the workplace, the physical and health hazards associated with them, and how to take protective action.  Hazard communication is achieved by recognition and evaluation of workplace hazards, accurate labeling of hazards, and effective training of employees about proper handling and use of those hazardous materials in the workplace.  The OSHA Hazard Communication Standard describes how employers are to inform employees of workplace chemical hazards.  The OSHA standard is enforced under the regulations found in 29 CFR 1910.1200.  ALSO SEE:  RIGHT TO KNOW.

Hazard not otherwise classified (HNOC) (OSHA)—“means an adverse physical or health effect identified through an evaluation of scientific evidence during the classification process that does not meet the specified criteria for the physical and health hazard classes addressed in this section. This does not extend coverage to adverse physical and health effects for which there is a hazard class addressed in this section, but the effect either falls below the cut-off value/concentration limit of the hazard class or is under a GHS hazard category that has not been adopted by OSHA (e.g., acute toxicity Category 5).” This definition refers to the Hazard Communication Standard at 29 CFR 1910.1200.

Hazard statement—“means a statement assigned to a hazard class and category that describes the nature of the hazard(s) of a chemical, including, where appropriate, the degree of hazard.” This definition refers to OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard at 29 CFR 1910.1200. ALSO SEE: HAZARD CATEGORY, HAZARD CLASS.

Hazardous chemical (OSHA)—“means any chemical which is classified as a physical hazard or a health hazard, a simple asphyxiant, combustible dust, pyrophoric gas, or hazard not otherwise classified.” This definition refers to the Hazard Communication Standard at 29 CFR 1910.1200. ALSO SEE: HAZARD COMMUNICATION STANDARD, CLASSIFICATION, HEALTH HAZARD, PHYSICAL HAZARD.

Hazardous Materials Identification System—SEE HMIS.

Health hazard (OSHA)—“...means a chemical which is classified as posing one of the following hazardous effects: acute toxicity (any route of exposure); skin corrosion or irritation; serious eye damage or eye irritation; respiratory or skin sensitization; germ cell mutagenicity; carcinogenicity; reproductive toxicity; specific target organ toxicity (single or repeated exposure); or aspiration hazard..”  This definition refers to the Hazard Communication Standard at 29 CFR 1910.1200. ALSO SEE: CLASSIFICATION, HAZARD CATEGORY, HAZARD CLASS, HAZARDOUS CHEMICAL.

Hematopoietic system—The means by which blood cells are produced in the body.  ALSO SEE:  BLOOD AGENTS.

Hepatotoxins—Chemicals which cause liver damage such as liver enlargement or dysfunction.  Examples include nitrosamines and carbon tetrachloride.

Safety Glossary Terms A through C
Safety Glossary Terms I through Q
Safety Glossary Terms R through Z

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