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10 Tips for Ensuring Hazard Communication Compliance

Originally posted September 03, 2013 by Chris Kilbourne on http://safetydailyadvisor.blr.com

Here are 10 tips that can help ensure HazCom compliance as well as the protection of employees from chemical hazards in your workplace.

The hazard communication standard applies to almost every organization and employer covered by OSHA regulations. It applies to manufacturers, importers, and distributors of hazardous chemicals, and to employers with employees exposed or potentially exposed to hazardous chemicals in general industry workplaces, shipyards, marine terminals, longshore operations, and construction sites, and certain agricultural workplaces.

For employers, the purpose of HazCom is to ensure that they and their employees can identify and understand chemical hazards in the workplace and take proper protective action.

Here are 10 tips that can help ensure compliance with HazCom and the protection of your employees:

  • Make sure you understand the effect of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) on Hazard Communication standard requirements. BLR’s upcoming webinar on GHS (September 9) is the perfect opportunity to review requirements and make sure you are proceeding toward compliance. To learn how to register for the webinar, click here.
  • Identify all hazardous chemicals in the workplace.
  • Develop a written hazard communication plan, including a list of the hazardous chemicals you’ve identified, procedures for communicating hazards, the names of the individuals in the organization responsible for managing the program, and so on. (See yesterday’s Advisor for more information about plan content.)
  • Review your plan periodically and keep it up to date with changes in the workplace and changes in hazards.
  • Make sure containers are properly labeled.
  • Post safety signs wherever they are needed to warn employees of chemical hazards.
  • Ensure availability of SDSs. Employees should have access at all times to the SDSs they need.
  • Update your SDS files as necessary. Make sure employees are using the most current SDS.
  • Train employees to recognize substances that are hazardous, understand the hazards, understand GHS-compliant labels and SDSs, take proper precautions to prevent exposures and other incidents, and report spills and other problems related to hazardous materials in the workplace. You have only until December 1 to train employees on GHS labels and SDSs.
  • Make sure that employees for whom English is a second language fully
  • understand hazards and required precautions. Translate written materials and/or use translators to ensure comprehension if necessary.

GHS Ready or Not

There have been a number of huge changes to the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) recently—many relating to the new United Nations Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals. (GHS).

The changes are sweeping, and the ramifications far-reaching for all companies that must comply with HCS. This is the year you’ll need to train employees on how to read and understand GHS formatted safety data sheets (SDSs) and labels—so now is the time to lay the groundwork for compliance.

Join us for an in-depth webinar on September 17, and get up to speed on everything you need to know.

You’ll learn

  • Specific requirements for labels, SDSs, chemical classification, training, authoring, and other compliance issues under the new HCS
  • Best practices and strategies that are presently being developed to achieve and maintain compliance
  • Answers to dozens of practical, real-world compliance questions, including:
  • Can we continue to use our current secondary container labeling system?
  • Will we have to re-label old chemicals in inventory?
  • Do we have to keep two safety data sheet books during the transition or save SDSs for 30 years?
  • Are NFPA and HMIS labels still relevant?
  • And much more!

About Your Presenter

Brad Harbaugh is editor of the Environmental Health and Safety blog for MSDSonline , a leading provider of cost-effective, cloud-based compliance solutions that help businesses manage a variety of global Environmental, Health & Safety (EH&S) regulatory compliance requirements. In addition to researching and reporting on current EH&S issues, Mr. Harbaugh is the creator of MSDSonline’s popular GHS Answer Center and GHS Webinar series.

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