The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) wrote the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), also known as the "Employee’s Right to Know", to help ensure chemical safety in the workplace. Employers are required to inform employees of both the physical hazards and health hazards of chemicals found at the job site and provide training on how to recognize, use and handle hazardous chemicals in the workplace.
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Under the HAZCOM Standard, employees who may work with a hazardous chemical are required to be trained prior to exposure, so they have the awareness and information needed to prevent adverse health effects. The training program needs to explain the workplace chemical hazards and how to use information in the hazard communication program. Employers also need to ensure their employees understand the information provided. The training may be provided for categories of hazards that an employee may encounter (ie carcinogens) vs. training on specific chemicals.
Additional training must be provided to employees when new physical or health hazards are introduced into the work area. Information must also be provided about the hazard category of the solvent. If the solvent is a suspect carcinogen, and the employee has not had carcinogenic hazard training, the training must be provided. New hires do not automatically need to be retrained if they received the needed training from a past employer. However, the current employer is responsible for ensuring employees have the training, knowledge, and information needed to do their jobs safely. Employees also must know the specifics of their new employer’s programs.
OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) is now aligned with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). With this alignment, requirements were added in the areas of: Hazard Classification, Labels (Product Identifier, Signal Word, Pictograms, Hazard Statements, Precautionary Statements, etc.), Safety Data Sheets (SDS), and Information and Training.
Employers are required to train employees on the revised Hazard Communication Standard, which includes the new label requirements and safety data sheets format.
For additional requirements information, please see the OSHA Hazard Communication page.