OSHA Hazard Communication: Creating a Safe, Compliant Workplace

Chemical safety is a crucial aspect in general industry, where worker safety is paramount to successful production.  Depending on which industry you work in, chemical hazards may be encountered on a daily basis; chemical manufacturers and general employers have a responsibility to inform and protect their workers of such hazards. 

How Do OSHA Regulations Come into Play?

OSHA Standard 1910.1200 addresses Hazard Communication (HAZCOM Standard) with respect to toxic and hazardous substances, detailing requirements for workplace compliance.  All chemicals that are used on a regular basis or may be used in a facility emergency must be considered. The most updated version of the HAZCOM Standard became effective on May 25, 2012.

What Changes Came Along with the HAZCOM Standard Updates?

  • Chemical labeling must be done in accordance with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).
  • Safety Data Sheets (SDSs), the 16-section standardized data sheets for each hazardous substance, shall replace the former Material Safety Data Sheets, which did not contain a unified, consistent format.

What Do Employers Need to Do to Stay Compliant?

  • Employers must inspect chemical shipments to ensure that all labels are undamaged.
  • Employers must maintain SDSs such that they are easily accessible to employees.
  • Employers must provide training with the following components, at a minimum:
    • How to detect a chemical release in the workplace
    • Specific hazards of chemicals found in the work area
    • How to properly read and gather information from an SDS
    • How employees should protect themselves from chemical hazards

How is This All Tied Together?

  • Employers shall prepare a written Hazard Communication Program to be kept on-site at all times, describing how to achieve compliance with respect to the following items:
    • Labeling chemical containers with the product identifier, hazard statements, and pictograms
    • Formation of a system for obtaining, organizing, and maintaining an inventory of SDSs
    • Informing all employees of the requirements of the HAZCOM Standard, the location of hazardous chemicals, and the location of the written Hazard Communication Program
    • Ensuring that all employees receive adequate training, as described above

Walden’s team of engineers has decades of experience helping clients manage safe and compliant workplaces.  Please call us today to discuss how we can help you!

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