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OSHA implemented what is known as a “Hazard Communication Program” in attempt to reduce the number of injuries and illnesses that result from toxic chemicals in the workplace. In this, the importance of properly labeling containers with hazardous material is emphasized. The program also includes the 6 most critical steps and actions employers / employees must take when working with hazardous materials.

Step 1: Learn the Standard / Identify Responsible Staff

First and foremost, employers should obtain a copy of OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard  [ hazcom. ]It Is important employers become familiar with these provisions in order to determine what is needed for compliance in your workplace. Primary focus should be on the following sections: e) written hazard communication program; (f) labels and other forms of warning (g) safety data sheets and (h) employee information and training. 

Step 2: Prepare and Implement a Written Hazard Communication Program 

This involves preparing a written plan to indicate how the hazard communication will be addressed in your company. In the written plan, employers should include a list of inventory of all hazardous chemicals in the workplace using the product identifier (product name, common name, chemical name).

Step 3: Ensure Containers are Labeled

It’s important to keep labels on shipped containers and label workplace containers where required. Chemical manufacturers and importers are required to provide labels on shipped containers. The following information must be included on labels:

  • Product Identifier
  • Signal Word
  • Pictograms
  • Hazard Statements
  • Precautionary Statements
  • Name, Address Phone # of responsible party

It is the responsibility of employers to ensure that containers in the workplace are properly labeled. At the very minimum, containers with hazardous chemicals in the workplace must include the product identifier and general information concerning the hazards of the chemical. Workers must have access to the complete hazard information. 

Step 4: Maintain Safety Data Sheets (SDSs)

An effective way to keep track and organize each chemical in the workplace is by maintains Safety Data Sheets (SDSs). These sheets must also be readily available to workers. A safety data sheet includes the detailed information on specific hazardous chemicals. Whether it be electronically held or printed out,  Employers must have SDSs with all of the hazardous chemicals that are present in their workplace. Copies should be distributed to all workers. 

Step 5: Inform and Train Employees

It is highly important that workers are trained on the dangers and hazards at risk when working with chemicals. Workers should be made aware that labels and safety data sheets can provide them with information on the hazardous chemicals they will be working with. After being made aware of what the hazards are, workers should be trained and understand how to implement protective measures as well as whom they should contact if an issue arises. 

Step 6: Evaluate and Reassess Your Program 

It is important to periodically review and asses the Hazard Communication Program in place. Doing so reassures that employers and workers are up to speed with any new chemicals or hazards they are working with. Also, this allows for an open conversation to discuss if the plan is still working and meeting objectives. If it is not, suggestions and changes can be brought up for areas that may need improvement.

At Frontier Industrial Corp., maximizing the safety of workers is our top priority. It is critical that workers are cautious while working with hazardous chemicals and thoroughly follow the Hazard Communication Program steps outlined above. Doing so will ensure their health, safety, and wellness is better protected while on the job.