What is the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard?

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Risks, or the circumstance in which people are exposed to hazards, will always be a situation where every company cannot avoid. While technology progresses and workplace practices and approaches evolve, employers and workers must conform in terms of abilities, experience, expertise, knowledge, and values. Providing workers with appropriate and consistent training will assist businesses in improving efficiency and increasing results in the place of work.

Supplying employees with adequate and reliable training would aid companies in enhancing productivity and performance at work. As a result, a decision was made that workplace safety should be a subject of law enforcement instead of employer ethics, resulting in the implementation of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA).

OSHA: A Regulatory Agency for Workplaces and Employees

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, established in 1971 and commonly known as OSHA, is in charge of maintaining workplace health and safety. In action to yearly workplace accidents that inflicted 14,000 worker deaths and 2.5 million injured workers, OSHA regulates occupational regulations and standards as well as provisioning assistance, education, and training.

 

OSHA is in charge of compliance in addition to education and training. OSHA authorities have the authority to levy fines for infringement, and they have the authority to report violators to prosecution if they believe such action is necessary. OSHA is also responsible for assessing the root causes of occupational injuries and fatalities. OSHA has decreased the work-fatality rate by over twice since its development, and it has dramatically decreased total accident and injury rates in sectors.

 

Moreover, OSHA defines what standards and qualifications relate to which working environments, and then imposes compliance to those standards and requirements. This agency develops specific criteria and specifications based on workplace investigation and feedback from technical specialists, employers, unions, as well as other partners. OSHA is required to clarify the processes, facilities, and training that employers and employees must employ to mitigate risks and ensure safety measures appropriate to the employers’ workplace and employees’ employment.

OSHA Standards

The regulations which define the procedures that employers must employ to protect their employees from danger are known as Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards. These regulations restrict the number of dangerous substances that employees may be exposed to. Additionally, the regulations mandate the use of specific safety procedures and materials and require companies to track hazards and maintain records of occupational accidents and injuries. Some of the OSHA Standards include the following:

  • Provisions for fall protection
  • Prevent trenching cave-ins
  • Prevent infectious diseases
  • Ensure the safety of workers when in confined spaces
  • Prevent disclosure to hazardous substances such as asbestos
  • Ensure the availability of guards on machines
  • Provide respirators or other safety equipment, and
  • Provide training for certain dangerous jobs.

OSHA Training Standards

OSHA training is an integral component of each employer’s safety and wellbeing for reducing occupational accidents and injuries. Relevant training standards are distributed in the regulations for various industries such as General Industry, Manufacturing, Maritime, and Agriculture. OSHA’s training standard for all sectors is outlined as follows:

  • Every employee must be trained in the roles, circumstances, and resources that they will deal with when working.
  • This training must be delivered by a trained individual in a method that the employee understands.
  • Training must be conducted as often as necessary to ensure secure operations.
  • Training must be reported and documented for a specified period.

Although all employers are kept to this high standard, OSHA specifies training frequency and trainer qualifications across different subparts with different specifications.

Who Needs OSHA Safety Training?

Every employee wants to feel safe and secure and work in a stable environment. OSHA supports employee wellbeing and the elimination of work-related injuries, infections, and deaths by adopting and promoting practices, as well as performing training, outreach, education, and assistance. You healthcare team will likely require online OSHA healthcare training.

While the employer decides which workers are protected by the OSHA standards, and there is no comprehensive list of occupations defined by the OSHA standards, some of the occupations that necessitate OSHA Certification are the following:

1.   General Industry

Workers’ protection is protected by General Industry Guidelines for preparation. It is critical to understand which requirements relate to the employee’s circumstance, from walking-working areas to methodological training for specialized equipment and substances.

The general industry tasks mentioned below are just some of the following necessitate preliminary training for new employee orientation as well as periodic or new hazard training:

  • Accident Prevention Signs and Tags
  • Arc Welding & Cutting
  • Chainsaw Safety
  • Compressed Gas Safety
  • Confined Space, Authorized Entrants/Attendants
  • Diving Safety
  • Electrical Safety-Related Work
  • Emergency Action Plan
  • Hazard Communication
  • Hazardous Waste Administration
  • Laboratory Safety
  • Mechanical Power Presses
  • Medical Services and First Aid (encouraged for general employees)
  • New Employee Orientation
  • Personal Protective Equipment
  • Powered Industrial Trucks
  • Procedure Safety Administration of Highly Hazardous Chemicals
  • Storage of Chemicals and Flammable and Combustible Liquids
  • Toxic and Hazardous Substances
  • Welding

2.   Healthcare workers

The healthcare industry, especially the hospital, is regarded as one of the most dangerous workplaces. In 2011, there was an estimate of 253,700 work-related incidents in hospitals alone in the United States, with a rate of 6.8 work-related injuries and illnesses per 100 full-time employees, which is double the average for the private sector world in general.

As a result, OSHA has designed a list of resources to assist healthcare facilities in recognizing workplace security necessities, implementing safety and health monitoring systems, and strengthening their healthy patient handling systems. Implementing these provisions profit not just the personnel, but also the patients.

3.   Construction Workers

As reported by OSHA, fatalities in the private construction sector were three times higher than in other industries. Annually, an estimated 100,000 construction workers are critically injured on the site. To reduce injury and casualties of workers, Construction standards that incorporate a comprehensive set of safety criteria as well as building safety guidelines, safety training and more are critical for the employee protection and reduction of injury and casualties.

Why Choose Online Training?

In today’s fast-paced world, almost all learning is now conducted online and remotely. From schools to universities, online learning is a safe and efficient platform for learning. Moreover, online learning and training have evolved in recent years, and it has a long list of benefits.

It can be the primary mode for students to attend class, professionals to expand their expertise and ability set, and professionals participate in continuous training to keep their insight and abilities current and important in today’s fast-paced corporate environment. Here are two main reasons why online learning is more effective than participating in face-to-face training courses:

1.   Convenience

For individuals with various responsibilities, the most appealing benefit of online training is convenience. Seeing as everything is available through the internet, accessing class materials and uploading work are extremely favorable. Taking an online course also indicates you won’t have to travel to class, which indicates less time spent commuting.

2.   Time-saving

In online training, there is no need of going from home to campus and seating in one place for a certain period to complete the training because online training is not time or place-bound. Furthermore, with learners being so preoccupied with their work, taking considerable time away from it is not an option.

Benefits of Being OSHA Certified

In almost any industry, from construction and building to office work, there are some significant advantages to obtaining OSHA Compliance Training, also known as being OSHA approved, that can benefit both the employee and the employer. These benefits have been in operation for years, several since the official Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) was approved in 1970, and they can be still used currently.

By recognizing OSHA certification, a safe work environment can help not only companies and industries but also employees, by instituting steps to enable their protection and well-being is at the center of everything their job does. OSHA certification is essential to understand how to handle each type of scenario in a working environment.

OSHA Hazard Communication Training (HAZCOM)

Employees have the right to be informed about the risks and characteristics of the substances to which they are exposed, as well as the measures they would take to protect themselves. Hazard communication, otherwise known as HazCom, is a series of procedures that employers and manufacturers must implement in the workplace to efficiently convey the hazards linked with chemicals for handling, storage, as well as any other type of exposure.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) mandates chemical producers and suppliers to assess the hazards of the chemicals wherein they work and to communicate the knowledge through labels and safety data sheets. Comparably, any employer that incorporates hazardous chemicals in the workplace must develop and implement a documented hazard communication policy that involves marking all containers, providing all workers with access to safety data sheets, and undertaking a training program for all employees who may be exposed to the hazards.

The occurrence of dangerous chemicals must be conveyed to employees in several forms, according to HazCom training, such as:

  • Labels, tags, or signs
  • Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) or Safety Data Sheets (SDS)
  • The inventory of hazardous chemicals
  • The written hazard communication program

You can take free OSHA Hazcom training right here.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.   What are temporary agency employers required to do to meet HAZCOM requirements?

To fulfill the criteria of OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard, the temporary agency employer, for example, will be required to render general hazard training and knowledge about the types of chemicals that workers could potentially encounter. Sections 1910.1200(h)(1) and 1926.59 of OSHA Hazard Communication standards would then hold host employers responsible for offering site-specific hazard instruction.

2.   Can MSDSs be processed on a computer to reach the accessibility requirements of HAZCOM?

Keeping MSDSs on a computer is acceptable during an instance where an employee’s work area includes a place where MSDSs can be accessed. When the MSDSs may only be reached outside of the employee’s work area(s), the employer is in breach of sections (g)(8) or (g)(9) of the Hazard Contact Standard.

3.   What are the container labeling requirements under HAZCOM?

Each container of hazardous chemicals must be labeled by the producer, importer, or distributor under HazCom Standards. When hazardous chemicals are placed into unlabeled containers, these containers must be labeled with the appropriate details, unless the container into which the chemical is moved is meant for imminent use by the employee who conducted the transfer.

4.   How does HAZCOM apply to pharmaceutical drugs?

The HazCom Hazards only covers pharmaceuticals that are deemed unsafe by the drug manufacturer. It also includes workplaces wherein employees are exposed under normal conditions of use or in a potential contingency. The primary responsibility for determining chemical hazards lies with the pharmaceutical producer and distributor. The pharmaceutical manufacturer’s or importer’s risk assessment can be used as an employer’s reliance.

5.   When is the chemical manufacturer required to distribute MSDSs?

Through Material Protection Data Sheets (MSDSs),  Hazard information must be communicated and delivered to the consumer at the time of the product’s initial shipment. When there are new or important details about the chemical’s hazard potential,  the Hazard Communication Standard also allows the chemical producer or importer to amend MSDSs within three months of learning.

6.   What is considered proper training under the HAZCOM standard?

The HazCom Standards training provisions along with the data sheets are not simply to be reviewed.  When employees are appointed to work with a hazardous chemical, they must be trained initially. Under 1910.1200(h), this clause seeks to include information before exposure to lessen the probability of negative health effects. If training is postponed until a later date, this target will not be met.

A company’s training program should serve as a platform for communicating to workers not only the hazards of the chemicals in their workplace but also how to use the knowledge produced by the hazard communication program. Training may not have to be performed on each particular chemical present in the working environment, but it may be undertaken by type of hazard that an employee is or may be exposed to during the process of his tasks. Some of the types of hazards include:

  • Carcinogens
  • Highly toxic agents
  • Sensitizers

Audiovisuals, classroom training, and interactive videos are some of the methods this can be achieved. Furthermore, it should provide an opportunity for employees to inquire and fully comprehend the knowledge provided to them. Besides, the preparation must be straightforward. If employees are given work orders in a language other than English, the training and knowledge provided under the HazCom Standard must also be in a foreign language.

7.   What are the requirements for refresher training or retraining a new hire?

Additional training is required if there is a presence of a new physical or health hazard, rather than a new chemical, is introduced into the workplace. For instance, if a new solvent is introduced into the workplace and its hazards are identical to those of existing chemicals for which training has already been provided, there is no need for additional training. As with initial training, and under the standard’s purpose, the employer must explicitly inform employees of a hazard category, such as corrosive and irritant where the solvent falls into.

The substance-specific data sheet must still be available, and there must always be proper labeling of products. Unless the newly introduced solvent is a potential carcinogen and there has never been a carcinogenic hazard in the workplace before, new carcinogenic hazard training for workers in all work environments where employees may be exposed must be administered. If a previous employer, an employee union, or another individual provided prior training to a new employee, the employer is not required to retrain the employee.

General knowledge, such as the fundamentals of the HazCom Standards, may be expected to be retained by an employee from one position to the next. The employer, on the other hand, is responsible for ensuring that their employees are properly trained and equipped with the skills and knowledge required to perform their jobs safely. Employees would most certainly need further training so they must understand the specifics of their new employer’s systems, such as the location of the MSDSs, the information of the employer’s in-plant labeling scheme, and the risks of new chemicals to which they will be exposed.

Here is another example. In section (h)(3)(iii) of OSHA HazCom Standards, it allows workers to be trained in how to protect themselves from hazards, namely particular protocols enforced by the employer such as work operation, emergency protocols, and use of personal protective equipment. As a consequence, an employer must determine an employee’s level of awareness regarding occupational hazards, familiarity with the standard’s specifications, and the employer’s hazard communication program.

8.   Do you need to keep MSDSs for commercial products such as “Windex” and “White-Out”?

MSDSs are not required by OSHA to be given to buyers of household consumer goods if the products are used in the workplace in the same way that a consumer would use them. For instance, MSDSs are not needed when the length and frequency of use and therefore exposure is not greater than what a normal consumer would experience.

This exclusion in OSHA’s law, although, is focused on how the chemical manufacturer’s product is currently used in the workplace, not on how it is supposed to be used. Employees that are expected to work with toxic chemicals in a way that exposes them for a longer period and more often than a regular user have a right to know about the properties of such chemicals.

9.   What are the requirements and constraints to using generic MSDSs?

Concerning the usefulness of a standardized content protection data sheet (MSDS), in the conditions outlined in Section 29 CFR 1910.1200(g), it states that all standards must be followed., as you are presumably acquainted. Work areas with hazardous chemicals must have MSDSs. Thus, they must mention the hazardous chemicals included in a product in quantities of 1% or more, or when it is a 0.1% or more carcinogenic chemical.

The quantity of the hazardous chemical in the commodity does not have to be listed on the MSDS. Consequently, as long as the hazards of the various mixtures are similar, a single MSDS can be produced for the various combinations of chemicals. Regarding the standard MSDS, it must adhere to all requirements defined in 29 CFR 1910.1200. (g).along with the name, address, and phone number of the responsible party.

10. What is the application of HAZCOM in an office area?

The law does not extend to the office staff who only come into contact with dangerous chemicals on rare occasions.  Most office goods such as adhesive tape and writing materials like a pen are excluded under the terms of the law, either as papers or as consumer products, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

For instance, one employee specifically enumerated copy toner. OSHA has formerly confirmed that using a copying machine infrequently would not lead to legal advertising. That being said, when handling chemicals to service the system or running it for long periods, the program must be enforced.

11. Is it essential to provide a material safety data sheet (MSDS) for a non-hazardous chemical?

The HAzCom Standards do not apply to MSDSs for non-hazardous chemicals. The standard states in paragraph 29 of CFR 1910.1200(g)(8) that “the employer shall retain in the workplace copies of the requisite MSDSs to every hazardous chemical, and ought to guarantee the accessibility to employees throughout each work shift while they are in their work field.”

MSDSs for non-hazardous chemicals on paper is not permitted or recommended for employees to retain. Thus, there is no need for the inclusion of  MSDSs for non-hazardous chemicals.

Conclusion

The significance of free online OSHA safety training goes further than a worker’s first day on employment. It also includes circumstances in which his role or working conditions adjust. An employee is more prone to injury, illness, or death when safety practices that apply to their job are not observed and practiced.

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