Safety Data Sheets and Warning Signs
New! "Material Safety Data Sheets" are now known as "Safety Data Sheets"
Know the hazards associated with the materials you use! Always review chemical safety information, such as an SDS or other resource, before starting work with a new or unfamiliar chemical.
Safety Data Sheets (SDSs)
Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) provide chemical-specific information, including chemical, physical, and toxicological properties, along with suggestions for storing, transporting, and disposing of chemicals. Current regulations require that all SDSs follow the same format (see OSHA Safety Data Sheet information). SDSs should be consulted as a first step in assessing risk associated with a new experiment or product.
The University of California's Environmental Health and Safety Offices have combined efforts and resources to create a ‘one-stop’ source for SDS's and chemical safety information. This system, GoldFFX by ChemWatch, includes thorough SDSs created by ChemWatch ("Gold MSDS"), as well as vendor-specific SDSs.
To access the UC SDS database you must be connected through a recognized UC campus computer.
Chemical Hazard Information
Chemical-specific hazard, toxicological, medical, and environmental information can be found through the RightAnswer online information system. As with the SDS system, the UC EH&S Offices have obtained a site license for this excellent resource, and it is available to all main UC sites with UC IP addresses. You will need to register when you use the system for the first time, but you will not need to pay. Contact EH&S at (831) 459-2553 or firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance or questions.
Laboratory spaces where designated biological, chemical, or radiological materials are used or where potential physical hazards exist are posted with warning signs. Researchers, staff, and visitors should note and understand hazard communication information provided on the warning signs, including specific hazardous agents (biological, chemical, radiological) and physical hazards (lasers, magnetic fields) present and used in the space, stated precautions (no food or drink allowed), and required personal protective equipment (lab coat, eye protection, gloves, etc.).
The GHS (Globally Harmonized System) symbols were developed by the United Nations as a world-wide standardized system for the classification and labeling of chemicals. Click here to view the GHS symbols.
Laboratory Warning Sign Symbols
The biological hazard warning is used to identify locations, equipment or materials where infectious agents may create a health risk. It is used to identify specific equipment, containers, rooms, and waste items that are known or potentially contaminated with biohazardous materials.
Radioactive Material and X-Rays
All areas where radioactive materials or x-rays are used are posted with this symbol. The symbol also identifies specific equipment, containers, rooms, and items that contain, or are potentially contaminated, with radioactive material.
The laser warning sign indicates the presence of a laser with enough power to cause injury to your eyes or skin. Do Not Enter a room with this symbol unless you are sure the laser is off. Do Not Enter a room if you cannot determine if the laser is on or off from the lighted warning sign outside of the lab.
Rooms or areas within rooms that contain high voltage equipment are posted with this warning sign. These areas can present significant hazards should a flood or water leak occur. Do not work on or handle open wiring or open devices that may be energized.
Strong Magnetic Field
This warning sign is common in rooms with Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) machines. Do not approach the magnetic field area with metallic objects, including tools or equipment.
No Pacemakers or Metallic Implants
Individuals with pacemakers, other medical electronic devices or metallic implants MUST STAY OUT of areas with this warning sign. This warning sign is common in rooms with Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) machines.