Table of Contents
- What Is HAZCOM?
- When to Perform HAZCOM Training
- OSHA’s Hazardous Communication Standards
- Tips for Better Hazardous Communication
- Additional Ways to Protect Yourself and Others From Hazardous Materials
Some work environments are more dangerous than others. The risks you and your employees regularly face depend on your line of work. One factor poses a more significant threat than most — the mishandling of hazardous chemicals and materials. Used correctly, these materials are essential for various purposes across industries. Without adequate training and handling, these materials can put your business, employees and community at risk.
Business owners must ensure their employees are aware of the hazardous chemicals around them. Employees must learn how to handle and operate around these materials to ensure everyone’s safety. One way you can achieve this level of safety is through proper hazard communication practices.
What Is HAZCOM?
HAZCOM is an abbreviation for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Hazard Communication Standard. These specifications include a set of rules to ensure everyone in the workplace stays informed about the hazardous chemicals and materials they work with.
The OSHA guidelines dictate the following necessities for businesses.
- Your business needs a written communication plan containing information about each hazardous material on-site and instructions for controlling them.
- Each chemical should have the correct labeling.
- Keep updated safety data sheets on hand with data about each chemical.
- Ensure every employee engages in hazard communication training.
When to Perform HAZCOM Training
Chemicals in the workplace can be dangerous. These chemicals can take many shapes and sizes, from small spray bottles to large 50-gallon drums. Your employees need to be ready to work with and around these chemicals as part of their job description — and they need to do so safely.
Proper hazard communication training is vital to achieving a safe work environment. If your business deals with hazardous materials, every employee needs to undergo HAZCOM training. OSHA requires this training, so making sure your employees have their certifications will save you from fines. But it will also ensure everyone is safer as they work with hazardous materials.
OSHA’s Hazardous Communication Standards
HAZCOM is a comprehensive approach to safety in any work involving hazardous chemicals. Take some time to familiarize yourself with the included aspects so you know what the certification process will cover. Here are OSHA’s HAZCOM standards.
- Clear and understandable information: Understandable details on each chemical’s hazards and identities must be available to each worker. If your workplace is multilingual, you must include all represented languages.
- Chemical evaluation: Manufacturers and importers must know the risks and hazards of the chemicals they produce and ship. Then, they can create labels and safety data sheets to keep you and your workforce informed.
- Employer responsibility: Employers must ensure safety data sheets and labels are always available to their employees. Employers must train their workers to handle relevant hazardous chemicals and identify labels and risks.
- Safety data sheets: These documents must use a specific format with 16 sections.
- Labels: Each chemical label should use a single word, hazard statement and pictogram for identification and warning.
Tips for Better Hazardous Communication
Follow these tips to meet OSHA’s hazard communication program requirements and experience better hazardous communication at work.
- Identify all hazardous chemicals in your workplace: One of the first things you should do is identify each dangerous chemical in your workplace. Doing so builds the foundation for workplace safety, as every worker will know what chemicals are nearby at all times.
- Create a written hazard communication plan: OSHA requires that you have a written hazardous communication procedure on hand. This policy shows that you emphasize workplace safety with hazardous chemicals. Your plan gives you a tangible process for bringing hazard communication into reality.
- Review your plan regularly: Stay flexible and keep your plan open for change. If you create a better process, adjust accordingly. Also, review your plan to identify the most effective areas for your workforce. Your plan should be a living document in the sense that it should change with your situation’s needs and realities.
- Use proper signs and symbols for hazardous chemicals: Signs and symbols can transcend language, allowing people who speak different languages to understand the dangers of hazardous chemicals. Make sure your employees know the meaning of each sign and symbol. Many symbols, such as a skull and crossbones, are universal.
- Label each hazardous chemical: Use proper labels on each dangerous chemical’s container. These labels should contain pertinent information about the chemical’s handling, use and nature.
- Train your employees: Make sure each of your employees receives hazardous communication training. Doing so will help you avoid fines while keeping your employees safer.
- Maintain current safety data sheets: Your safety data sheets should be up to date and ready for access to each of your employees at all times. Contact your chemical manufacturers for up-to-date information.
- Follow manufacturer recommendations: Your manufacturers should provide recommendations for the handling and storage of their hazardous chemicals. Follow these recommendations to help keep everyone safer at work.
Additional Ways to Protect Yourself and Others From Hazardous Materials
One of the best ways to stay safe around hazardous chemicals at work is to slow down and use common sense. Consider the following safety precautions.
- Consult safety data sheets: If you are at all unsure of the chemical you’re working with, take time to consult the safety data sheet for more information. The time it takes to educate yourself is worth avoiding an incident.
- Read every label: Every hazardous material needs a clear and proper label to mark what is within the container. Look at every chemical’s label, whether you’re moving a container or using the chemical within.
- Never assume: Assumptions can lead to danger around hazardous chemicals. Some non-hazardous chemicals can go through a reclassification process and qualify as hazardous. Know the exact chemical you’re working with and understand its hazardous classification before beginning.
- Get familiar with signs: Knowing the signs can help you gain useful information about chemicals at a glance. The sign will reveal crucial information and warnings that will guide you as you begin working with the chemical.
Earn Your Hazard Communication Certification Through Hazmat School
OSHA requires that you and your workforce follow their hazardous communication regulations. You can gain your certification through Hazmat School’s online OSHA Hazard Communication course. Our full list of courses provides an affordable solution to your safety compliance needs. Whether you need to meet regulations or boost your resume with certifications, you can find what you need with Hazmat School.
Hazardous communication is crucial for a safer workplace. Contact us online today to learn more about how we can help you follow OSHA’s regulations and keep your employees safer around hazardous chemicals. We look forward to serving you.