Chemicals are a valuable asset in the workplace, but only if used safely. The Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) was designed to provide information about hazardous chemicals to assure chemical safety at the workplace in any industry. The intent is to provide employees with information regarding the hazards while working with the chemicals to protect themselves from being injured.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) amended its Hazard Communication Standard to join with the United Nations Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) in 2012. The Hazard Communication standard requires all the hazardous information of a chemical used in the workplace, which covers physical, health, and environmental impacts, to be effectively communicated to those working with it. There are five key factors of the Hazard Communication Standard.
[Classification of Hazard] Hazard classification is necessary to recognize the level of severity while working with any chemical. The classification process involves several steps based on the Hazard Communication Standard, such as identifying the chemicals and its hazard effects, reviewing the impact of hazards associated with the chemicals, and determining the degree of hazard.
[Labeling Containers] Chemical manufacturers and importers must ensure that the containers are properly labeled with all the pictograms, hazard statements, precautionary statements, and appropriate hazard warnings. The same labeling procedure should be followed when transferred into any secondary containers.
[Safety Data Sheets] A safety Data Sheet should be provided for every hazardous chemical. It should be presented in an appropriate and consistent format and be made readily available.
[Information and Training] Employers should provide all the necessary information related to the chemicals and their hazard effects to the downstream users. Employers should also implement a hazard communication training program for these workers. Elements of the training should address such things as the types of chemicals in the workplace, how to read labels, and the elements of Safety Data Sheets. After the initial instruction, training should be provided to employees whenever new chemicals are introduced at the workplace.
[Implementing a hazard communication program] Awritten or comprehensive hazard communication program must be developed or implemented by the employers to ensure the complete knowledge of all hazardous chemicals used at the workplace. This program involves assessments of the list of chemicals involved, availability of Safety Data Sheets for those chemicals, and training programs for the employees.
The main objective of the Hazard Communication Standard is to ensure that the chemicals produced or imported are classified, and all the chemical manufacturers and employers should transfer this information to all the downstream users. Adhering to the Hazard Communication Standard helps to provide a better understanding of hazardous chemicals. Adoption of the elements of the standard aids in identifying physical, health, and environmental hazards to ensure the safety and health of the employees at the workplace.
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Satya is the resident Chemical Engineer here at SafetyStratus. She is focused on supporting and improving the Chemical Inventory and related products and services for the SafetyStratus platform. She has recently completed her master’s degree in Chemical Engineering. While relatively new to the business world, she has conducted cutting edge research, participated in several notable projects, and worked at a refinery, a steel processing plant, and, most notably, for the Center of Atomic Research. She is eager to use her skills and talents to share knowledge with the broader EHS community.
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United States Department of Labor. (2012). 1910.1200 – Hazard Communication. | Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Retrieved from Osha.gov website:https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/regulations/standardnumber/1910/1910.1200
- United States Department of Labor. (2016). HAZARD COMMUNICATION: Hazard Classification Guidance for Manufacturers, Importers, and Employers. Retrieved from https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3844.pdf
- United States Department of Labor. (2017a). Hazard Communication | Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Retrieved from Osha.gov website: https://www.osha.gov/dsg/hazcom/
- United States Department of Labor. (2017b). Hazard Communication | Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Retrieved January 11, 2020, from Osha.gov website: https://www.osha.gov/dsg/hazcom/index.html
- United States Department of Labor. (2019). Chemical Hazard Communication. Retrieved from Osha.gov website: https://www.osha.gov/Publications/osha3084.html
- United States Department of Labor. (n.d.). Hazard Communication Guidelines for Compliance. Retrieved from www.osha.gov website: https://www.osha.gov/Publications/osha3111.html