Skip to main content

As the situation in Ukraine evolves, businesses should be mindful of potential risks to their people, assets, operations, or supply chains in the region and globally. Marsh, as part of the Marsh McLennan family of companies, has created a page with information, tools, and resources related to the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Please visit the page for the latest information.

January 12, 2022

Don’t React - Chemicals and Safety Data Sheets for Farm & Ranch Safety

Kenny Ray

Even with the new year, old risks are likely still high on the list for our safety professionals. Especially, when it comes to using chemicals every day. With these challenges, January is a great time to think about the chemicals you will use during the upcoming planting season and throughout 2022. 

Chemicals are a class all their own.

To start, it can help to think about the various agricultural chemicals in terms of the USDOT Hazard Classes:

  • Class 1 – Explosives: Not commonly used in agricultural applications.
  • Class 2 – Compressed Gases such as oxygen, acetylene, anhydrous ammonia
  • Class 3 – Flammable Liquids such as gasoline and diesel
  • Class 4 – Flammable When Wet: Not commonly used in agricultural applications.
  • Class 5 – Oxidizers including several granulated fertilizers such as ammonium nitrate
  • Class 6 – Poisons such as most insecticides and some herbicides and fungicides
  • Class 7 – Radioactives: Not commonly used in agricultural applications.
  • Class 8 – Corrosives such as batteries and many fertilizers
  • Class 9 – Miscellaneous materials including several agricultural chemicals which are not poisons.

When safety is first, chemicals are part of conversation.

Alongside these classifications, agribusiness leaders must also be ready to account for the real time safety that teams are working with. Before and during the use of agricultural chemicals, a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) is an excellent source of information for safety information specific to the chemical.  An SDS is divided into 16 sections as follows:

  • Section 1, Identification includes product identifier; manufacturer or distributor name, address, phone number; emergency phone number; recommended use; restrictions on use.
  • Section 2, Hazard(s) identification includes all hazards regarding the chemical; required label elements.
  • Section 3, Composition/information on ingredients includes information on chemical ingredients; trade secret claims.
  • Section 4, First-aid measures includes important symptoms/effects, acute, delayed; required treatment.
  • Section 5, Fire-fighting measures lists suitable extinguishing techniques, equipment; chemical hazards from fire.
  • Section 6, Accidental release measures lists emergency procedures; protective equipment; proper methods of containment and cleanup.
  • Section 7, Handling and storage lists precautions for safe handling and storage, including incompatibilities.
  • Section 8, Exposure controls/personal protection lists OSHA’s Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs); ACGIH Threshold Limit Values (TLVs); and any other exposure limit used or recommended by the chemical manufacturer, importer, or employer preparing the SDS where available as well as appropriate engineering controls; personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Section 9, Physical and chemical properties lists the chemical’s characteristics.
  • Section 10, Stability and reactivity lists chemical stability and possibility of hazardous reactions.
  • Section 11, Toxicological information includes routes of exposure; related symptoms, acute and chronic effects; numerical measures of toxicity.
  • Section 12, Ecological information includes detailed information on environmental impacts.
  • Section 13, Disposal considerations details proper means of disposing of the product and packaging after the product is used.
  • Section 14, Transport information provides information vital to shipping the materials within regulatory requirements.
  • Section 15, Regulatory information identifies the various agencies and laws, which regulate the material.
  • Section 16, Other information, includes the date of preparation or last revision.

As an employer, OSHA requires most agricultural operations to provide training and personal protective equipment (PPE) to employees who use, or are exposed, to various chemicals while at work.  The SDS is an excellent tool to use to train your employees about safe practices when using various agricultural chemicals. For additional tips concerning farm, ranch and agribusiness safety, contact your local MMA Risk & Safety Consultant.