OSHA or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) is based solely on the concept that employees have the right to be informed about the hazards and identities of the chemicals they would be working with and what they are exposed to when working with them. As employees, they also need to be aware of what protective measures are available to them to help prevent any adverse effects from happening. OSHA has designed the HazCom Regulations to familiarize employees with the information they should be aware of.

Employers also stand to benefit under the HazCom Regulation. Knowledge shared through the HCS helps employers in providing safer workplaces for employees. When employers make their employees aware about the chemicals being used, they can take preventive steps to reduce contact, establish proper work practices and look for less harmful substitutes. Together these efforts can help to prevent the incidence of work related injuries and illnesses caused by harmful chemicals.

OSHA provides a summary of the HazCom Regulation in a pamphlet entitled “Chemical Hazard Communication”. Safety managers and employers, who are unaware of this, would do well to familiarize themselves with the rule’s requirements. You can avail a free copy from your local OSHA Area Office, or by getting in touch with the OSHA Publications Office.

Employers themselves are responsible for ensuring the changes in the HazCom regulations are made at their facility. So, what do you need to know about the HazCom changes? Find the salient points below:

  • Hazards should be classified as per the hazard class and hazard category, defining the level of hazard and degree of severity.
  • The percentages to classify chemical mixtures should now have a tiered approach – instead of the previously used broad definitions.
  •  Standard information and language on labels should be used, including harmonized signal words, graphics and pictograms. Additionally, statements explaining the precautionary hazard measures can be listed alongside.
  • A 16 section Safety Data Sheet (SDS) is now required to provide consistent information to all stakeholders in the facility.
  • OSHA’s obligatory permissible exposure limits (PELs) and the non-mandatory threshold limit values (TLVs) are to be listed on the Safety Data Sheets.
  • The new HazCom dictates that all employers are required to train employees on the new label elements and pictograms.
  • Employees must be trained on the new standards immediately. HazCom Compliance with the modified provisions of the final rules has to be met by June 1, 2016 by all employers.
  • Employers are also required to update workplace labeling and written hazard communications latest by June 1, 2016.

If you are an employer, be sure that your facility adheres to the above HazCom Regulations. Do keep watching this space for more HazCom Regulation and OSHA updates!