Five Regulatory HazCom Standard Requirements You Need to Know About
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Hazardous chemicals are found in more than 7 million workplaces and over 55 million employees handle, use or work around these potentially harmful substances throughout the U.S.
While these substances are essential to many work processes in a variety of industries, they can also be very dangerous.
Exposure to these chemicals can cause effects ranging from mild skin irritations to serious health problems, such as heart and organ damage or cancer. Some chemicals present safety problems, such as the potential to cause fires or explosions.
To help us become aware of these hazards and to understand how to protect ourselves from them, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has developed the “Hazard Communication Standard” (29 CFR 1910.1200).
The Hazard Communication Standard establishes uniform requirements to make sure that hazard information is communicated to affected employers and exposed employees.
Commonly referred to as HazCom or the “Right to Know” law, this regulation gives you the right to know which chemicals are being used in your workplace, and the possible dangers you are being exposed to.
You also have the right to know how to protect yourself when using hazardous chemicals. As part of the Hazard Communication Standard, your employer is required to provide you with the knowledge and training necessary for you to do your job safely.
In 2012, OSHA aligned its Hazard Communication Standard with the United Nation’s Globally Harmonized System for Classification and Labeling Chemicals (GHS).
While OSHA maintained the framework of its traditional HazCom Standard, it adopted the GHS hazard definitions, and safety data sheet and labeling formats. GHS mandates a standard format for information on every hazardous chemical, and it’s a worldwide standard for the countries that choose to use it.
Prior to GHS there was an inconsistency of information that often brought about confusion and uncertainty for employers and employees.
Here are the Five Regulatory HazCom Standard Requirements You Need to Know About
- 1. Create an inventory of all hazardous chemicals at the workplace.
- 2. Ensure each chemical has a GHS-style safety data sheet, or SDS, that is easily accessible to all employees who work with that chemical.
- 3. Ensure each chemical container is properly labeled with a GHS-style approved label or an OSHA-compliant workplace label.
- 4. Create and implement an employee HazCom training program
- 5. Develop a written program that describes how the HazCom program has been implemented.
Shifting our mindsets towards chemical safety is perhaps the most important factor in influencing Hazard Communication compliance.
If a worker is rushing or frustrated, then this state of mind is going to put them at a greater risk of not following the company’s Hazard Communication practices at that time.
Have any of your actions allowed for any impression that at-risk behaviors are acceptable as long as the job gets done?
We all know that simply satisfying OSHA compliance guidelines does not prevent an incident from occurring.
The better course of action is to shift the safety culture from a compliance mindset to one centered on fostering an environment in which people are committed to consciously seek safe ways to work.