The Hazard Communication Standard (HCS)
The Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) is aligned with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). Hazcom ensures chemical safety in the workplace. It gives employees the right to know what hazardous substances are stored and used at the facility. We can help you write your Hazcom plan and make sure you are compliant with labeling, training, and employee safety.
Hazard Communication Standard
In order to ensure chemical safety in the workplace, information about the identities and hazards of the chemicals must be available and understandable to workers. OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) requires the development and dissemination of such information:
- Chemical manufacturers and importers are required to evaluate the hazards of the chemicals they produce or import, and prepare labels and safety data sheets to convey the hazard information to their downstream customers;
- All employers with hazardous chemicals in their workplaces must have labels and safety data sheets for their exposed workers, and train them to handle the chemicals appropriately.
Proper Training Under the HAZCOM Standard
Employees are to be trained at the time they are assigned to work with a hazardous chemical. The intent of this provision (1910.1200(h)) is to have information prior to exposure to prevent the occurrence of adverse health effects. This purpose cannot be met if training is delayed until a later date.
The training provisions of the HCS are not satisfied solely by giving employee the data sheets to read. An employer’s training program is to be a forum for explaining to employees not only the hazards of the chemicals in their work area, but also how to use the information generated in the hazard communication program. This can be accomplished in many ways (audiovisuals, classroom instruction, interactive video), and should include an opportunity for employees to ask questions to ensure that they understand the information presented to them.
Training need not be conducted on each specific chemical found in the workplace, but may be conducted by categories of hazard (e.g., carcinogens, sensitizers, acutely toxic agents) that are or may be encountered by an employee during the course of his duties. Furthermore, the training must be comprehensible. If the employees receive job instructions in a language other than English, then the training and information to be conveyed under the HCS will also need to be conducted in a foreign language.