The Major Elements of the Hazard Communication Standard
The five major elements of the Hazard Communication Standard are the:
Of these five elements, the MSDS is the essential element of which the other four are based. That is, without the necessary information that is contained in the MSDSs, the others elements could not be properly implemented. Most employers are not required to evaluate independently the hazards of the substances that are use in their workplace. They may rely on the information that is provided in the products MSDS. It is from this information in the MSDS that employers are able to determine what products are hazardous; how the products should labeled, and what training is necessary. Therefore, what that means is every workplace should at least one person who routinely reads all those MSDSs.
Employers are required maintain an inventory of all hazard substances that known to in the workplace. This part is not difficult to understand, without knowing what workplace substances are considered hazardous and an accurate listing of substances; it would be impossible to comply with the other elements of HazCom.
Labeling requirements are just that, the required information that must on all containers of hazardous substances. These requirements begin with the container labeling by manufacturer/importer, continue in the workplace, through any changes of these substances from one form or composition to another and finally (although addressed by other regulations instead of HazCom) to the disposal of any byproduct and end waste. At all life phases of the substance, there are labeling requirements. At a bare minimum, all containers must label with the materials identity and an appropriate warning of the hazard that it may present.
Employers are required to train their employees in the safe and proper use of hazardous substances. The required topics include the requirements of the Hazard Communication Standard; including the rights afforded to the worker by the standard. Any workplace operations where hazardous substances are present and what these substances are present. Other required training topics include the location and availability of the written Hazard Communication Program, the list(s) of hazardous substances and Material Safety Data Sheets as well as the methods and observations that may used to detect the presence or release of a hazardous substance. Properly trained employees should be aware of the physical and health hazards of the substances in their workplace and the measures they can take to protect themselves from these hazards; the proper labeling requirements and, of course, how to read and use the MSDSs.
The written Hazard Communication Program is the plan in writing (imagine that) that details how the employer is will accomplish the requirements of the Hazard Communication standard. The plan should list the hows, wheres, whens and whos of achieving full compliance.
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