The Hazard Communication Standard is also known as Haz-Com or the Right-to-Know Law.
The purpose of “The Hazard Communication Standard“, “Haz-Com” or “Right-to-Know Law” is to ensure that the hazards of all chemicals produced or imported are classified, and that information concerning the classified hazards is transmitted to employers and employees. The transmittal of information is to be accomplished by means of comprehensive hazard communication programs, which are to include container labeling and other forms of warning, safety data sheets and employee training.
What Is Haz-Com
Haz-Com as already stated in the preceding paragraph simply means “Hazard Communication“.
OSHA Hazard Communication Standard
OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) requires the development and dissemination of information about information about the identities and hazards of chemicals.
Here is what OSHA expects:
- 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.
Haz-Com requires chemical manufacturers or importers to classify the hazards of chemicals which they produce or import, and all employers to provide information to their employees about the hazardous chemicals to which they are exposed, by means of a hazard communication program, labels and other forms of warning, safety data sheets, and information and training. It also requires distributors to transmit the required information to employers. (Employers who do not produce or import chemicals need only focus on those parts of this rule that deal with establishing a workplace program and communicating information to their workers.)
Of recent, there has been certain changes in the OSHA hazard communication standards;
Major Changes To The Hazard Communication Standard
- Hazard classification: Provides specific criteria for classification of health and physical hazards, as well as classification of mixtures.
- Labels: Chemical manufacturers and importers will be required to provide a label that includes a harmonized signal word, pictogram, and hazard statement for each hazard class and category. Precautionary statements must also be provided.
- Safety Data Sheets: Will now have a specified 16-section format.
One of the major changes to the Hazard Communication Standard is the 16-section format of safety data sheets. The information in a safety data sheet must appear in this order:
- Hazard(s) identification
- Composition/information on ingredients
- First-aid measures
- Fire-fighting measures
- Accidental release measures
- Handling and storage
- Exposure controls/personal protection
- Physical and chemical properties
- Stability and reactivity
- Toxicological information
- Ecological information
- Disposal considerations
- Transport information
- Regulatory information
- Other information
History of the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS)
The Occupation Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) first promulgated the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), or “HazCom Standard” for short, on November 25th, 1983.
The HCS (also known as the “Right-to-Know Law”) was designed to help inform employers and employees of the hazardous nature of chemicals used or stored in the workplace. The standard also applies to chemical manufacturers.
The HCS was later broadened in scope to include all industries in which there might be a potential for employee chemical exposure, and went into effect on March 11th, 1994.
The standard allowed all employees unfettered access to Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), the proper training for directly handling toxic chemicals, and information on the detection and prevention of chemical releases.
But a lack of uniformity of the HCS with global chemical hazard standards caused problems, especially in the transnational shipment of hazardous chemicals.
So on March 26th, 2012, OSHA, with participation from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Transportation (DOT), and Consumer Product Safety Commission, published the Hazard Communication Standard Final Rule in the Federal Register.
What Is Hazard Communication Program
What is hazard communication program:
The Hazard Communication Program is a program that tends to protect people from injuries and illnesses associated with using hazardous chemicals in the workplace. People have the right-to-know and understand the hazards and identities of the chemicals they are exposed to at work.
To accomplish this, the program includes the following elements; maintaining a list of hazardous chemicals (a chemical inventory), making Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) accessible, ensuring that chemical containers are properly labeled, and providing the information, training, work practices, PPE and equipment capable of protecting employees.
The Hazard Communication Standard Was Modified To Adopt The Globally Harmonized System To?
The hazard communication standard was modified to adopt the globally harmonized system to provide a common and coherent approach to classifying chemicals and communicating hazard information on labels and safety data sheets. This update will also help reduce trade barriers and result in productivity improvements for American businesses that regularly handle, store, and use hazardous chemicals while providing cost savings for American businesses that periodically update safety data sheets and labels for chemicals covered under the hazard communication standard.
This in general will help to improve safety and health of workers through more effective communications on chemical hazards.