The OSHA Hazard Communications Standard (HCS) 1910.1200 is important because it prevents over 500 workplace injuries and about 43 deaths across the USA annually. Revised in 2012, it covers 43 million workers engaged in handling hazardous materials at work. The Standard mandates the identification of about 650,000 hazardous chemicals and enforces the appropriate protective measures.
As a Safety Manager at a facility that handles hazardous materials (even part time or on rare occasion), there are several factors to keep in mind to ensure employees remain safe on the job.
Here are 5 key elements of the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) and tips on how to implement them to keep your workers safe.
5 Key Elements of the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard
- Materials Inventory:
Have a list of the hazardous materials present in your work area.
- Material Safety Data Sheets:
Compile a detailed description of each hazardous material listed in the Materials Inventory.
Label all the containers with hazardous materials to identify the material and to warn employees of its potential hazard.
Train all the employees on the dangers of the particular chemicals they will be working with, and show how to use the required personal protective equipment at work.
- Written Program:
Develop a written program which ties together all the materials and processes mentioned above.
Who Needs a Hazard Communication Program?
Any job site that includes working with chemicals is required to have Hazard Communication Programs set up in order to educate workers on the various dangerous aspects of chemicals, like flammability and explosiveness. To ensure chemical safety at work, all the necessary information about the chemical hazards must be available – which can be done through the methods and practices mentioned above.
Violation of the HCS is one of the most commonly cited OSHA violations. Most cited industries include specialty trade contractors, fabricated metal, and machinery manufacturing, repair and maintenance, wholesalers, mineral product manufacturing, construction, wood manufacturing, and food manufacturing. The reason why some workplaces don’t enforce the Standard’s implementation is that they think that explaining the key dangers of various chemicals to their workers is too complicated and hard for them to understand. As a result, some employees start practicing unsafe methods while working with various chemicals. This is why Hazard Communication Training is extremely important in educating workers on the dangers of the chemicals they are working with.
One of the key aspects of a Hazard Communication Program is a careful review of the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) designed to inform workers about all they need to know about particular hazardous chemicals. Along with this information, workers also need to know the following: how to fully inspect the PPE required for their project before putting it on, and the emergency procedures in case of an accident.
It is extremely important to have eyewash stations set up in close proximity to the hazardous work site, regularly inspect and test them, and provide training for your employees on how to properly use them. Work sites that are required to have wash stations include laboratories, high dust areas, spraying and dipping operations, battery charging and hazardous substance dispensing areas, etc. Learn more from our previous blog post: How to Comply with Important Requirements for Eye Wash Stations.
Following these rules and requirements will create a much safer environment at your work site. If your company is not already HCS compliant, now is the time to act.
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Go to the OSHA’s Hazard Communication web page to learn more about the standards and resources available.
If you have questions or would like help selecting the right PPE, please give us a call at 1-800-829-9580, or visit us online at pksafety.com.