Hazard communication is one of OSHA’s perennial top-10 citations. Without the labeling and training required by the hazard communication standard (29 CFR 1910.1200), workers might not realize that the chemicals they work with every day could be causing cancer, allergies, lung disease or reproductive harm.
After all, while you can clearly see that a sharp blade might cut your arm off, the link between a chemical exposure and a cancer that doesn’t appear until 20 years later is much less visible.
That said, the requirements of the hazard communication standard are fairly straightforward.
- Employers are required to make a list of all chemicals that are present in the workplace.
- Employers must have a written hazard communication plan that addresses all facets of compliance, including in-house labeling systems, contractor chemical safety, and unlabeled pipes.
- Chemical manufacturers, importers and distributors are required to ensure that chemicals are properly labeled. Employers receiving these chemicals are required to ensure that the labels are maintained in legible condition.
- Employers must have a safety data sheet (SDS) for each chemical in the workplace. The SDS contains additional information that is not on the label. It must be readily accessible to employees.
- Workers must be trained in what chemicals they may be exposed to at work, what the hazards are, how to read labels and SDSs, and how to protect themselves against chemical exposures.
The chemicals you use in your facility may not change frequently. However, that doesn’t mean your hazard communication program is one-and-done. The standard has annual program review and training requirements. It’s essential to make sure that at least once a year, you revisit your program, note any changes – and sign and date it when you do.
Check out the entire list of OSHA’s Most Common Citations and How You Can Avoid Them – a report published by Intelex Technologies. It is available as a free download.