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Iowa Legal Update Lesson Summaries

2021 Lesson 02: Hazardous Materials & Hazard Communication – Part 1


Release Date:


This is Part 1 of a two-part lesson on hazardous materials and hazard communication. It is intended to provide first responder awareness level refresher training.

This lesson provides examples of situations where officers have encountered hazardous materials and the potential outcomes of those events.

Section one defines hazardous materials, explains the potential health risks posed by hazardous materials: thermal, radiological, asphyxiation, chemical, etiological, or mechanical. It identifies OSHA’S five levels of training and responsibilities in hazardous materials incidents.

The lesson explains clues to recognizing hazmat events, including: occupancy and location; container shape and size; placards and labels; shipping papers, safety data sheets, and facility documents; markings and colors; and human senses. The lesson reviews the recommended initial response to hazardous materials incidents.

Section two examines routes of exposure and chemical characteristics. It explains that chemicals can enter the body through inhalation, skin absorption, ingestion and injection and provides tips for avoiding exposure. Section two examines case studies of officer inhalation exposures to phosphine at a residence and drugs at a traffic stop.

Section three examines containers used for transporting hazardous materials. It explains how a container’s shape and size can provide responding officers with initial information about the type of chemicals involved in a hazardous materials incident. It specifically addresses rail cars, commercial tanker trailers, agricultural tanks, and fuel trailers. This section provides case studies of officers exposure to vinyl chloride from a train derailment and the dangers of a boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion (BLEVE).

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