Hazardous Materials Communications Guidelines for Employers: OSHA Standards and Requirements
What Are Effective Dates for New HazCom Standard Changes Including the GHS?
1910.1200(j)(1) says; Employers shall train employees regarding the new label elements and safety data sheets format by December 1, 2013.
What are your responsibilities as an employer?
Under the provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 ( OSH Act), as the employer, you must provide a workplace free from recognized hazards that are causing, or are likely to cause, death or serious physical harm to your employees regardless of the size of your business. You must comply with OSHA standards and regulations under the OSH Act. You must also be familiar with those OSHA standards and regulations that apply to your workplace and make copies of them available to employees upon request.
“Employer” means a person engaged in a business affecting commerce who has employees, but does not include the United States or any State or political subdivision of a State or those covered by other standards.
Who Is Affected by Hazard Communication Rules?
The HazCom Standard applies to all businesses where hazardous chemicals are used in the workplace. In 1994 the top two most frequently cited OSHA citations involved the HazCom Standard, and often resulted in fines of more than $1,000 per violation.
What is a Hazardous Chemical?
OSHA defines a hazardous chemical as any liquid, solid, or gas that could present a physical or health hazard to an employee. Examples of hazardous chemicals include cleaning agents, degreasers, flammables, greases, paints, pesticides, aerosols and compressed gases.
Are Consumer Products Considered Hazardous Chemicals?
Many employers do not realize that many of the same products they use at home are considered by OSHA to be hazardous chemicals. Exemptions are made for consumer products, and two criteria must be met in order to qualify.
First, the product must be used in the same quantity and concentration as it would be at home.
Second, it must not be used with greater frequency or for longer durations than it would be at home.
For example, the average American does not buy a five-gallon bucket of degreaser, nor does the average American clean their bathroom twice a day.
Who falls under OSHA act requirements?
The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act), 29 USC 667, affects almost every private business in the United States and U.S. territories. The act is administered by the federal Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) or an OSHA-approved state program. The original goal of the legislation was to assure employees’ working conditions to be free from recognized hazards that cause or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm. The reach of its coverage is best seen by reviewing the few organizations that are exempt from the act’s applicability.
The Act does not cover:
Farms which employ only immediate members of the farmer’s family;
Working conditions for which other federal agencies, operating under the authority of other federal laws, regulate worker safety. This category includes most working conditions in mining, nuclear energy and nuclear weapons manufacture, and many aspects of the transportation industries; and employees of state and local governments, unless they are in one of the states operating an OSHA-approved state plan.
Steps Necessary for Compliance
Now that you know whether the Hazard Communication Standard applies to you, you’re probably wondering “What do I have to do?” The key to successful compliance is to be proactive. Don’t wait for an accident to happen or for an OSHA inspection to begin thinking about Hazard Communication. The key is understanding what you must do in order to comply.
First, you must develop a written HazCom plan.
Second, you should be sure that your hazardous chemical inventory list is up to date and complete.
Third, make sure that all hazardous chemicals are properly labeled.
Fourth, you must have accessible Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for every chemical that is covered by the standard.
And finally, you must properly train your employees. It’s important to understand that most HazCom citations involve the absence of compliance — for example, NOT having a written hazard communication program or NOT properly training your employees.
Again, the key to compliance is proactivity. The first step is to understand what is required of you, and the second is to take action. Develop your written plan.
Train your employees. Do these things now. True workplace safety is implemented long before accidents happen or OSHA pays a visit.
Why Does OSHA Enforce the Hazard Communication Standard?
The actual OSHA standard, 1910.1200(a)(1) says, The purpose of this section is to ensure that the hazards of all chemicals produced or imported are classified, and that information concerning the classified hazards is transmitted to employers and employees. The requirements of this section are intended to be consistent with the provisions of the United Nations Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS), Revision 3. The transmittal of information is to be accomplished by means of comprehensive hazard communication programs, which are to include container labeling and other forms of warning, safety data sheets and employee training.
What Are Minimum Hazard Communication Training Requirements?
Employee Information and Training:
Employers shall provide employees with effective information and training on hazardous chemicals in their work area at the time of their initial assignment, and whenever a new chemical hazard the employees have not previously been trained about is introduced into their work area.
Information and training may be designed to cover categories of hazards (e.g., flammability, carcinogenicity) or specific chemicals. Chemical-specific information must always be available through labels and safety data sheets.
Also it should cover any operations in their work area where hazardous chemicals are present; and, the location and availability of the written hazard communication program, including the required list(s) of hazardous chemicals, and safety data sheets required by this section.
Employee training shall include at least:
Methods and observations that may be used to detect the presence or release of a hazardous chemical in the work area (such as monitoring conducted by the employer, continuous monitoring devices, visual appearance or odor of hazardous chemicals when being released, etc.); the physical, health, simple asphyxiation, combustible dust, and pyrophoric gas hazards, as well as hazards not otherwise classified, of the chemicals in the work area; the measures employees can take to protect themselves from these hazards, including specific procedures the employer has implemented to protect employees from exposure to hazardous chemicals, such as appropriate work practices, emergency procedures, and personal protective equipment to be used; and, the details of the hazard communication program developed by the employer, including an explanation of the labels received on shipped containers and the workplace labeling system used by their employer; the safety data sheet, including the order of information and how employees can obtain and use the appropriate hazard information.
Comprehensive information on the new HazCom GHS rules can be found in the LBA University paper
“Six Steps to Understanding HazCom GHS Compliance”.
LBA University™ is happy to serve as a resource for your questions concerning HazCom GHS. Bryan Dixon, LBAU’s course director, is an OSHA-authorized safety instructor with two decades of industrial, construction and fire safety training experience. LBAU offers an economical HazCom GHS training course online. Custom training options for employers are available on location, or at the LBA University Training Center in Greenville, NC.
“The Dec. 1 GHS deadline is just the first in a series of rollouts of the new GHS standard by OSHA,” said Dixon. “I would expect the agency to pay very close attention to compliance related issues as this new system is implemented.”
Contact Bryan for a no obligation consultation about your professional safety training needs. He can help you determine if HazCom GHS training is needed and the best approached to achieve cost effective and efficient training. Contact Bryan at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 252-757-0279.
About LBA Group Inc.
LBA Group, Inc. has 50 years of experience in risk management, design, and integration of industrial and wireless telecommunications infrastructure assets, worldwide. It is comprised of the professional technology consultancy Lawrence Behr Associates, Inc. ; LBA University, Inc. providing on-site and online professional training; and LBA Technology, Inc., a leading integrator of radio frequency systems, lightning protection, and EMC equipment for broadcast, industrial, and government users. The companies are based in Greenville, N.C., USA.
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