Todd Jerome Jenkins, MS, CSP, SMS, CHST, STSC

Safety Aficionado & Ph.D. Student

Top Five Questions Asked about Hazard Communication.

Hazard Communication is a vital component of workplace safety and health. The Hazard Communication standard requires employers to inform their employees about hazardous chemicals in the workplace and to provide training on the safe handling, use, and disposal of these chemicals. In this article, we will answer the top five questions asked when searching for Hazard Communication related to occupational safety, using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and OSHA requirements.

What is Hazard Communication, and why is it important?

Hazard Communication, also known as HazCom, is a standard set by OSHA that requires employers to inform their employees about hazardous chemicals in the workplace and to provide training on the safe handling, use, and disposal of these chemicals. The standard is necessary because it helps prevent workplace injuries and illnesses caused by exposure to hazardous chemicals.

According to the BLS, in 2020, approximately 3.3 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported by private industry employers. Many of these injuries and illnesses were related to exposure to hazardous chemicals.

What information must be included in a Hazard Communication program?

OSHA requires employers to have a written Hazard Communication program that includes the following:

  • A list of hazardous chemicals presents in the workplace
  • Safety data sheets (SDSs) for each hazardous chemical
  • Labels or other forms of warning for hazardous chemicals
  • Employee training on the safe handling, use, and disposal of hazardous chemicals

What is a Safety Data Sheet (SDS)?

A Safety Data Sheet (SDS) is a document that provides detailed information about a hazardous chemical, including its physical and chemical properties, health effects, and safety precautions. Employers must obtain an SDS for each hazardous chemical used in the workplace and make it available to employees.

What are the requirements for labeling hazardous chemicals?

OSHA requires employers to label hazardous chemicals in the workplace with information that alerts employees to the presence of the chemical and its potential hazards. The label must include the identity of the hazardous chemical, appropriate hazard warnings, and the name and address of the chemical manufacturer or importer.

In addition, OSHA requires employers to label containers of hazardous chemicals with the same information as the label on the chemical’s original container.

What are an employee’s rights under Hazard Communication?

Employees have several rights under Hazard Communication, including:

  • The right to know about hazardous chemicals present in the workplace
  • The right to access Safety Data Sheets for hazardous chemicals
  • The right to receive training on the safe handling, use, and disposal of hazardous chemicals
  • The right to report hazardous conditions or concerns to their employer or OSHA without fear of retaliation

Conclusion

Hazard Communication is a vital component of workplace safety and health. Employers must inform their employees about hazardous chemicals in the workplace and provide training on their safe handling, use, and disposal. Safety Data Sheets and labeling of hazardous chemicals are critical components of a Hazard Communication program. Employees have several rights under Hazard Communication, including knowing about hazardous chemicals in the workplace and reporting hazardous conditions or concerns without fear of retaliation. By following OSHA’s Hazard Communication standard, employers can help prevent workplace injuries and illnesses caused by exposure to hazardous chemicals.

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