You need to protect any employee who is exposed to hazardous chemicals by following the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)’s Hazard Communication Standard (HCS). These tips can help you to meet the standard and protect employees.
1 Learn the hazard communication standard
The HCS uses the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). This system puts chemicals into health and physical hazards categories. This helps employees quickly understand a chemical’s dangers.
2 Train employees about chemical hazards
Employers must train employees about any chemical hazards that might be in their work areas before employees start work and whenever there is a new hazard. They must also train employees in a way and in a language they can understand. Employers must tell employees about:
- how to spot hazardous chemicals,
- the personal protections in place,
- who to contact with a problem
- what information is on labels and safety data sheets (SDSs), and
- how to get access to the sheets.
3 Provide safety data sheets (SDSs)
The sheets should be in a standard 16-section format. They should give details about each hazardous chemical in the workplace. Employees should have easy access to SDSs, either in their work area or electronically.
4 Label all containers of hazardous chemicals
Employers must make sure all containers are clearly labeled with at least a product identifier and general information about a chemical’s hazards. Makers and importers of chemicals have to provide a label showing a signal word, pictogram, and statement for each hazard class and category. Employees must have access to complete information about a chemical's hazards.
5 Create a written hazard communication program
A written hazard communication program will state how you will handle hazard communication in your workplace. It will also list all the hazards in each work area. OSHA recommends using the product identifier to make it easier to track the status of SDSs and labels for hazardous chemicals.