This law is designed to protect employees who work with hazardous chemicals in the workplace. Employers are required to educate their employees of any potential risk involving these materials. Simply put, the federal government mandates that as an employee, you have a "Right to Know" about the chemicals you work with, proper labeling, and how to protect yourself against any potentially harmful effects associated with these chemicals.
GUMC's Hazard Communication Policy summarizes the provisions of the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard (29 CFR 1910.1200) and means/methods GUMC uses to implement and comply with the standard.
In order to ensure chemical safety in the workplace, information about the identities and hazards of the chemicals must be available and understandable to workers. OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) requires the development and dissemination of such information:
- Chemical manufacturers and importers are required to evaluate the hazards of the chemicals they produce or import, and prepare labels and safety data sheets (SDS) to convey the hazard information to their downstream customers;
- All employers with hazardous chemicals in their workplaces must have labels and safety data sheets for their potentially-exposed workers, and train them to handle the chemicals safely.
Provisions of the Hazard Communication Standard
There are five major provisions of the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard, with which employers must comply. They are:
Labeling - Labels must be affixed to each chemical container in the workplace. All container labels must accurately identify the contents.
Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) - SDSs are documents prepared by the chemical manufacturer that give very detailed hazard information for each specific chemical. They must be available for each hazardous chemical within the work area.
Chemical Inventory - A list of the hazardous chemicals in the workplace.
Training and Information - Employees must be provided with effective information and training on hazardous chemicals in their work area, at the time of their initial assignment, and whenever a new hazard is introduced into their work area.
Written Program - There must be a written Hazard Communication program, or policy, in the workplace which details methods employed to comply with the provisions of the Hazard Communication Standard.
United Nations Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) and the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard
The OSHA Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) is now aligned with the United Nations Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). This update to the HCS will provide a common and coherent approach to classifying chemicals and communicating hazard information on labels and safety data sheets. Major changes incorporated into the Hazard Communication Standard include:
- Hazard classification: Provides specific criteria for classification of health and physical hazards, as well as classification of mixtures
- Labels: Chemical manufacturers and importers will be required to provide a label that includes a harmonized signal word, pictogram, and hazard statement for each hazard class and category. Precautionary statements must also be provided.
- Safety Data Sheets: Will now have a specified 16-section format
- Information and training: Employers are required to train workers on the new labels, elements, and safety data sheets format to facilitate recognition and understanding.