The 4 Steps to Identifying Hazardous Materials for Fire Code Reporting

Fire Code Reporting

Do you know what these laboratory symbols mean? This is a pop quiz of the new OSHA Globally Harmonized System (GHS) that is rolling out in labs over the next few years. This new labeling system will improve safety conditions and create an international classification standard. Chemical safety information helps lab employees make informed choices in the workplace, but even so, lab accidents are an unfortunate reality. By following these steps to identify hazardous materials on site, labs gain a critical advantage. This is the second post in a series of six posts on fire code reporting.

#1 What Regulations Apply to Your Facility?

Before donning your HazMat suit, it is important to identify all of the applicable chemical safety related requirements that govern your particular work activity. One important source of chemical safety information is the ubiquitous MSDS sheet. Employers as well as chemical manufacturers are responsible for making sure the information is accurate. These MSDS sheets should be accessed through a reputable software vendor who researches the code requirements and updates for you.

#2 Check Your Inventory for Chemicals on the Hazardous Materials List

There are so many codes that apply to the storage and use of a wide range of items. On the heels of these codes come affordable software solutions for keeping track of what enters and exits the premises. If the labs in your building contain any of these items, then the facilities must meet certain reporting requirements.

Hazardous Materials


-Combustible Fibers

-Compressed Gases

-Corrosive Materials

-Cryogenic Fluids

-Explosives and Fireworks


Flammable and Combustible Liquids

-Flammable Gases

-Flammable Solids


Highly Toxic and Toxic Materials

-Liquified Petroleum Gases

-Organic Peroxides



Pyrophoric Materials

-Pyroxylin (Cellulose Nitrate) Plastics

-Unstable (Reactive) Materials

-Water Reactive Solids and Liquids


#3 Use Barcoding to Keep Real-time Inventory for Fire Code Reporting

Once your hazardous materials have been identified, the next step is keeping an accurate inventory for fire code reports. The report typically includes a floor plan, location of containers, the CAS/DOT ID#, type of container, size of the container, container contents, number of containers, total amount of material on site, and common name. Real-time, accurate information can mean the difference between life-and-death for lab employees and emergency responders. Today, we have new technology that has advanced the way we keep inventory. Barcoding all new inventory as it enters the facility is a way to make sure all hazardous material is identified.


#4 Teamwork is the Key to Tackling Fire Code Reporting

Work as a team to tackle the myriad codes covering the site. This may require some additional collaboration and training, with the promise that it will pay off with improved compliance. The key players of fire code compliance are laboratory management, facilities management, inventory management, and EH&S professionals, and together, this group can achieve a complete picture of the hazardous material inventory on site.


Staying Current on Hazardous Material Identification

Codes are always being updated to reflect the latest trends in society and safety research. The new GHS system is contributing to the existing HazCom standard with the goal of preventing workplace injuries. This December 1, 2013 marks the date when “employers shall train employees regarding new label elements and safety data sheets” according to the OSHA rule. Full adoption of GHS HazCom systems is slated to occur by June 1, 2015. The new GHS requirements are available online and many companies are offering training services. For more information on the GHS system, check out the following video.




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