When working with chemicals in the workplace, it is imperative that individuals practice proper safety procedures in order to keep everyone involved safe. From shipping, handling, storage, and more, the presence of chemicals in the workplace can lead to dangerous situations or accidents if proper communication is not made.
Hazard communication (or HazCom) standards have been put in place by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to protect workers who directly handle or are in the vicinity of potentially dangerous chemicals. Individuals who work with chemicals face a number of risks from day to day, including health hazards such as irritation and reactions as well as physical threats such as flammability. Because of these risks, OSHA established standards for hazard communication to keep workers informed and safe.
HazCom Standard Requirements
In order to abide by OSHA standards, workplaces that house or handle chemical materials must ensure they comply with certain requirements. These requirements include the proper labeling of chemicals including their identities as well as mixtures and hazardous qualities; on these labels, the appropriate signal word, pictogram, and hazard statement must be included for each classification of hazard. Beyond labeling, workplaces must also provide thorough data sheets detailing the information about the chemicals present, and all workers must be trained to understand hazard labels and OSHA standards of safety.
The data sheets must contain a substantial amount of integral information including measures to take should first aid be required or upon accidental release of the chemical materials. Other information that must be included involves how to handle and store the chemicals, relevant information relating to toxicity and ecology, as well as disposal protocol. It may also include information on what equipment is necessary for handling, shipping, and storing the materials.
While some workers and employers may find the requirements of OSHA HazCom standards to be tedious or demanding, they have been put in place to ensure the safety, education, and overall well being of those who interact with hazardous chemicals. Because handling chemicals inherently comes with a high risk of injury due to the nature of chemical materials, providing proper education, labeling, and training is imperative for the safety of the workforce and the success of a business.
Originally published: http://stevenlewisweiner.net/what-is-hazard-communication/