OSHA requires that every employee be given information on the hazards of all chemicals with which he/she works. Information includes the chemical, physical and biological hazards of the material, ways to protect one’s self from those hazards, and information on what to do if exposure occurs. OSHA requires certain informastion be put on the labels of all hazardous chemicals, and a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) containing all critical information be provided by the manufacturer and be made readily available to all employees.
Each employee must be given training on understanding the chemicals in the work place; the training must be specific to the chemical and presented at a level which each employee can understand. Training must be updated s new chemicals or processes are introduced into the workplace.
OSHA 29 CFR 1910.1200 for General Industry
OSHA 29 CFR 1926.59 for Construction
Keys to Compliance for Supervisors
- Make certain each employee fully understands the hazards of each chemical they use; provide training in the general hazard communication standard and the chemicals in your workplace.
- Make certain employees use workplace chemicals only in the manner they are intended, and following directions and cautions on the label.
- Make certain the employee has read and understands the information on the label and on the MSDS
- Keep copies of all MSDSs in a location easily accessible to employees, regardless of the work shift; keep MSDSs up to date.
- If there are questions about the hazards of any material, contact the EHS Hazard Communication Specialist.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. MSDSs are difficult to understand. Who can help us understand them?
A. The manufacturer or the distributor. Any EHS employee can assist, and provide a written guide of the terms frequently used in the MSDS.
Q. What if I don’t have an MSDS for a chemical we use?
A. You must obtain a copy, either from the manufacturer / distributor of from EHS. Ready access by your employees is an OSHA requirement.
Q. I buy certain chemicals in bulk, and transfer them to smaller containers. Does the smaller container need to be labeled?
A. Yes! You may be able to order extra labels from the manufacturer. If not, you can make copies of the label and affix them to the new container. Just make sure the copy is waterproof or solvent-proof, as appropriate. A permanent pen may also be used to write on the container.
Q. How often do I need to train my employees about hazardous chemicals?
A. Whenever you introduce a new chemical to the workplace, or you change the way a standard chemical is being used.
Links to written programs, further information