Safety guides and audits to make your job as a safety professional easier

Control of Hazardous Chemicals and Substances


Handling Hazardous Chemicals and Substances

When working with chemicals, products, and materials:

  • Follow all HAZCOM required standards when handling hazardous substances.
  • Safety Data Sheets (SDS) provide vital safety information on chemical products used at the worksite. SDS should be provided for all substances. They should also be present at the chemical storage locations and consulted before using.
  • Maintain a complete set of SDS to ensure they are available for ready reference.
  • Chemicals or other hazardous material should not be accepted on any facility without a current SDS for the relevant product.
  • Hazardous substances received should be checked to ensure that all packaging is intact; with no leakage of the contents and package labeling that is consistent with the SDS.
  • Place chemicals and hazardous substances in the appropriate hazardous storage area for the particular substance.
  • Store containers with chemicals and hazardous materials in liquid form in suitable storage areas.
  • Before using any hazardous substance, the workers using the substance should understand the instructions on its use and precautions to be taken.
  • Adequate personal protective equipment should be available and used as required.

Handling Hazardous Chemicals and Substances (Continued)

  • The supervisor should assess the job to be performed and if required, conduct training sessions and a Pre-Job Safety Meeting with all workers involved in the use of the hazardous substance.
  • Maintain a master file of SDS for all hazardous material in use for reference.
  • Hazardous materials labels or markings on containers in use or stored on platforms or Mobile Offshore Drilling Units (MODU’s) that have been damaged, defaced or faded should be replaced.
  • Archive all hazardous chemicals that were present on the facility at any time.
  • SDS should be available for all hazardous chemicals and products on company worksites.
  • Employees should be trained handling chemicals and products safely according to Hazardous Communications (HAZCOM) program requirements.
  • Contractors should have comparable training as required by their HAZCOM program.
  • Safety Data Sheets (SDS) should be available to all affected employees and contractors exposed to hazardous substances.
  • The designated location of SDS’s is communicated during orientation. The SDS’s should be stored in the central work area so that workers have immediate access in an emergency.
  • Verify that the appropriate placard markings and cargo manifests are in place at the platform. Damaged or faded placard markings should be replaced.
  • Prior approval is required before bringing a new chemical or controlled product to a company site.

More information on OSHA’s new GHS Hazard Communication Standard.

Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER)


Emergencies can create a variety of hazards for workers in the impacted area. Preparing before an emergency incident plays a vital role in ensuring that employers and workers on offshore oil and gas platforms have the necessary equipment, know where to go, and know how to keep themselves safe when an emergency occurs.

HAZWOPER refers to the types of hazardous waste operations conducted in the United States under OSHA Standard 1910.120 "Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response."

The standard contains the safety requirements employers should meet in order to conduct these operations.

Workers may need to attend 8-hour, 24-hour, or 40-hour HAZWOPER training prior to authorization as an emergency responder.

Changing Oil/Servicing Equipment

Properly collect, store, transfer, and dispose of waste products generated by the servicing of equipment.



Asbestos is well recognized as a health hazard and its use is now highly regulated by both OSHA and EPA. Asbestos fibers associated with these health risks are too small to be seen with the naked eye. Breathing asbestos fibers can cause a buildup of scar-like tissue in the lungs called asbestosis and result in loss of lung function that often progresses to disability and death. It’s important to know that there is no “safe” level of asbestos exposure.

Many people have come into contact with asbestos fibers through their jobs (occupational exposure). Some of the work environments or occupations in which workers are now or were exposed in the past are included in the next tab.

Asbestos (Continued)

Work Environments

  • construction sites
  • maritime operations
  • mining operations
  • offshore rust removals
  • oil refineries
  • power plants
  • shipyards / ships / shipbuilders

When working with asbestos:

  • Locations containing asbestos should be designated as “regulated” areas.
  • Remove asbestos in compliance with applicable regulations.
  • Verify that workers removing the asbestos are adequately trained and qualified.
  • Do not allow drinking, eating, or smoking in regulated areas.
  • Ensure workers use proper personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Properly prepare, handle, and transport asbestos-containing clothing after use.

Visit Safety and Health Topics - Asbestos for more information on asbestos safety.

Radioactive Materials and Equipment

Radioactive Materials and Equipment
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Radiation may be defined as energy traveling through space. All forms of ionizing radiation have sufficient energy to ionize atoms that may destabilize molecules within cells and lead to tissue damage.

Ionizing radiation sources may be found in a wide range of occupational settings in various manufacturing settings including the oil and gas industry. If radiation is not properly controlled it can be potentially hazardous to the health of workers.

When handling radioactive materials and equipment:

  • Store it in a dedicated storage area with the appropriate signage.
  • Only qualified and experienced third-party workers should handle and use radioactive materials under a Work Authorization Permit. Strict rules govern the handling of radioactive material and should be followed at all times.
  • Prior to handling radioactive materials and equipment, a PA announcement should be made warning workers of their use and the areas in which they will be used. Restrict area access during use.
  • The third-party company using radioactive material should supply the company representative with a complete set of rules and regulations governing the use of the material and the contact information for the Radioactive Supervisor.

More information on ionizing radiation hazards.

Radiographic Inspections - Non-Destructive Testing (NDT)

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Radiographic inspection is a form of nondestructive testing that checks for holes, voids, and discontinuities in welds, etc., using electromagnetic radiation to penetrate metals.

There is potential for workers to be exposed to radioactive source hazards when conducting radiographic inspections due to the use of x-ray emitting devices and/or laser equipment as part of the inspection process.

When radiographic inspections are being conducted, follow the safe work practices below:

  • The contractor should be certified and approved to use radiographic devices.
  • Conducting these inspections verifies that work is being conducted using equipment that is licensed and approved in accordance with applicable regulations.
  • The inspection process should have a written procedure outlining safe work practices associated with inspection activities.
  • Schedule the inspection only when a minimum number of workers are in the testing vicinity.
  • Identified radiographic testing areas should be designated as Restricted/High-hazard areas. Rope off or barricade these areas.
  • Place warning signs in visible locations around the testing area and keep warning signs in place until the testing activity has been completed.

Painting and Coatings

Paints and coatings are considered hazardous substances. On all offshore facilities, be sure to follow best management practices for abrasive blasting and coating operations.

Be sure to following the best practices below when using paint or coatings:

  • Paints are considered hazardous substances and should be stored in their original container.
  • Dispense small quantities of paint to tins for paint jobs.
  • Return any residual paint to the original paint container.
  • Store paint in the paint locker and keep it closed at all times.
  • Keep the paint inventory neat.
  • Secure container lids when finished using the paint.
  • Follow the protocol below when working with paint thinners:
    • Handle paint thinners with the same protocol as paint.
    • Do not use paint thinners for cleaning anything other than paintbrushes.
    • Dispose of used thinners correctly. Do not throw the thinners into the sea.
  • All paint should be handled and disposed of in accordance with company’s Waste Management Plan.

Abrasive Blasting

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Abrasive blasting is the most common surface preparation technique used to remove old paint and other surface materials such as rust, mill scale, dirt, and salts. Abrasive blasting might be conducted during vessel and during maintenance and repair operations that include blasting and painting.

Workers who engage in abrasive blasting are at an increased risk of exposure to toxic dusts, high noise levels, and a range of other safety and health hazards. Helpers (e.g., the "pot tender" and cleanup personnel) and others may also be at risk if they work in the vicinity of areas where abrasive blasting is conducted.

Be sure to follow the best practices below when abrasive blasting is conducted:

  • Use vacuums equipped with High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters or wet methods when removing accumulated dust.
  • Schedule blasting when the least number of people would be exposed.
  • Blast in a specified location that is as far away as possible from other employees.
  • Stop other work and clearing people away while blasting is taking place.
  • Clean up paint chips, dust, and used abrasive daily or as soon as possible after blasting has finished.
  • Avoid blasting in windy conditions.
  • Post warning signs to mark the boundaries of work areas contaminated with blasting dust and alerting employees to the hazard and any required PPE.

Gas Detectors (Portable)


When using portable gas detectors:

  • Use and maintenance on portable gas detectors should be performed only by competent persons.
  • Use manufacturer’s recommendations, approved calibration kit, and daily bump test when calibrating gas detectors.
  • When used in confined space atmospheric testing, portable gas detectors should have appropriate auxiliary pumps and wands.
  • Before issuing confined space permits or safe welding/burning permits, atmospheric testing or sampling should be performed in a confined space.
  • When working in confined spaces or hot work areas, continuous monitoring of the atmosphere is required. Documentation is required at 15 minute intervals.
  • Portable gas detectors should be calibrated using an external service provider at least every 90 days. Ensure a current inspection sticker (with date) is attached.


Before beginning this quiz, we highly recommend you review the module material. This quiz is designed to allow you to self-check your comprehension of the module content, but only focuses on key concepts and ideas.

Read each question carefully. Select the best answer, even if more than one answer seems possible. When done, click on the "Get Quiz Answers" button. If you do not answer all the questions, you will receive an error message.

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1. Which of the following provides vital safety information on chemical products used at the worksite?

2. Hazardous materials labels or markings on containers in use or stored on platforms or Mobile Offshore Drilling Units (MODU's) that have been damaged, defaced or faded _____.

3. Safety Data Sheets (SDS's) should be stored _____ so that workers have immediate access in an emergency.

4. Prior to workers handling radioactive materials and equipment _____.

5. Portable gas detectors should be calibrated using an external service provider _____.

Have a great day!

Important! You will receive an "error" message unless all questions are answered.