Texas Tech University
Scholarly Messenger
Container Labeling Safety Information

By Lawrence Schovanec, Provost and Senior Vice President
Robert V. Duncan, Vice President for Research


Recently a TTU professor and co-workers distributed an improperly labeled hazardous material to another professor's laboratory. Fortunately, no one was injured in the destination laboratory, but the material ignited a fire that caused property damage. It is essential that we share the “lessons learned” from this event, and ask that everyone follow the directives within this memo from this point forward. We do this in order to assure that we operate in a manner that mitigates all known hazards, and that emphasizes our collective safety culture.

Lessons learned:
  1. All materials and chemicals in every laboratory at TTU must be correctly identified on the container label, and this container must be labeled with all appropriate secondary container labeling, as shown below:
    • Product Name (Chemical name, not a formula)
    • Signal Word (“Danger” or “Warning” depending on the severity of the hazard)
    • Hazard Statement (Describe the nature of the hazard, including degree)
    • Precautionary Statement (Describe measures taken to minimize hazard, i.e., “Keep Refrigerated”)
  2. Any production of a material by TTU employees and students, even if such a material is stored temporarily as an intermediate in a more extensive process, must be properly labeled as described in item 1 above, or if the exact composition is unknown, with the likely intermediate material and an identifier pointing to a specific lab notebook page. It is a responsibility of the material's creators to label properly and completely any material that they produce.
  3. All laboratory personnel must be familiar with the secondary container labeling, and they must handle all materials in a safe manner that mitigates all known hazards.
  4. No one should open any unmarked or unlabeled containers. Instead, contact Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S; 742-3876) for help in mitigating the risks associated with any material in an unlabeled container.
For additional assistance, consult the ChemWatch SDS database on the EH&S website. Anyone with an eRaider can access this valuable information. Using ChemWatch, you can review and print SDS’s to assist in labeling and provide critical information to lab personnel. The ChemWatch SDS database also provides one sheet SDS’s that can be printed and posted in your lab. SDS’s can also be viewed in multiple languages.