Overregulating the chemistry industry jeopardizes innovation, jobs, and economic growth. Learn more.

Julianne Ogden

Diisocyanate producers have a long history of providing safe handling information to customers through Safety Data Sheets (SDS). For example, SDS, formerly known as Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) provide information about important health and safety topics, including:

  • Potential hazards, how to protect against them, and steps to take in an emergency.
  • Occupational exposure limits (OELs) and permissible exposure limits (PELs).
  • Handling, storage, transportation, spills, and disposal advice.
  • Regulatory information such as Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) classification and labeling.
Obtaining A Safety Data Sheet (SDS)

An SDS can be obtained upon request from the diisocyanates producer. In addition, containers are labeled with appropriate hazard warning information. Similarly, during transportation, appropriate Hazard Communication (HazCom) signs and labels are used on trucks, tank cars, containers, and during marine transportation.

Worker Safety and Occupational Exposure Levels

Worker safety is important to the diisocyanates industry. Occupational Exposure Limits (OELs) are intended to set the airborne concentrations of substances to which workers can be exposed on a daily basis without significant risk of material adverse effects. OELs are normally set for an eight hour day and are expressed as an eight hour time-weighted average. In many cases, a short-term (15-minute) exposure limit is also established. Occupational exposure limits can be called by different names such as: threshold limit values (TLV); permissible exposure limits (PEL) and short-term exposure limit (STEL) in the United States; maximalearbeitplatzkonzentrationen (MAK) in Germany; and indicative and binding limit values (ILV) in the European Union.

Regulatory authorities in many countries have devised and adopted occupational exposure limits for airborne MDI and TDI. For MDI and TDI in the U.S., these are commonly 20 parts per billion (ppb) as the short-term exposure limit and 5 ppb for the eight-hour time-weighted average value. These OELs have been set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) or the American Conference of Governmental and Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH). The OSHA Permissible Exposure Limits, PELs, are the mandatory regulatory limits in the U.S. On February 1, 2016, the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) lowered its recommended occupational exposure levels, known as TLVs, for Toluene-2,4-diisocyanate and Toluene-2,6-diisocyanate (TDI) from 5 parts per billion (ppb) to 1 ppb and the 15-min STEL from 20 ppb to 5 ppb. OSHA’s PEL for TDI is currently 20ppb (ceiling), and remains the OSHA regulatory exposure limit for TDI. To comply with current regulations, consult with OSHA, or other country specific regulatory agencies. To learn more about the DII industry’s steps to protect workers, visit our page on Industrial hygiene.

General Information about the Revisions to the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard

The OSHA Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) was designed to provide employees with information on hazards of all of the chemicals that they may use in the workplace and recommended protective measures. The revised OSHA HCS Final Rule was published March 26, 2012, and took effect May 25, 2012.

The HCS was modified to align it with the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals. As of June 1, 2015, the HCS is requiring compliance with all of the provisions for preparation of new labels and SDS. All covered employers were required to train workers by December 1, 2013, on the new label elements and SDS format to facilitate recognition and understanding.

Whereas the current HCS is a performance-based standard, this update to the HCS will provide a standardized approach to classifying chemicals and communicating hazard information on labels and SDS. The revised HCS established specific criteria for each health and physical hazard, along with detailed instructions for hazard classification as to whether mixtures or substances are covered. A chemical will be classified based on the type, the degree, and the severity of the hazard. Once the hazard classification is completed, the standard specifies what information is to be provided for each hazard class and category. Labels will require the following elements: pictogram, signal word, hazard statement and precautionary statement. The revised HCS requires that the information on the SDS follow a 16-section format, which is the same as ANSI standard Z400.1/Z129.1.

OSHA Hazard Communication Standard

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