Hazard Communication Training and the Importance of the Hazard Communication Standard
Any job site or workplace that works consistently with chemicals is required to have a Hazard Communication Program to help educate workers on the various aspects of these dangerous chemicals. Workers need to be able to understand and identify various chemicals throughout the workplace and know how to work with them safely. Not only does this eliminate accidents and gives workers a greater sense of confidence and peace of mind while working, but this education is also required by OSHA and is also known as Worker’s Right to Know. OSHA’s most commonly cited violation is the failure to meet these requirements and the reason a lot of workplaces don’t enforce them is because they simply feel that explaining these chemicals too their workers is just too complicated and complex to fully understand. This is a grave mistake and could lead to employees practicing unsafe methods when using various chemicals while working. This is why Hazard Communication Training is extremely important in educating workers on the dangers of the chemicals they are working with.
We cannot understate how important Hazard Communication Training is. Workers must be educated and trained in it and will need to know the main components of the program. One of the key aspects of a Hazard Communication Program is the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). These sheets are designed to inform workers of everything they need to know about particular chemicals. By reading the MSDS, workers should be able to determine:
- Any and all health hazards relating to any chemical they are working with or will be exposed to.
- The flammability of the product that they are working with. They will also be able to determine the temperature the product will ignite at.
- How reactive the particular chemical is and how it will react with other chemicals and agents. This will let them know if they could be dealing with a potential explosion or similar behavior when working with specific chemicals.
- The Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) they will need to protect themselves from the chemicals and products they will be working with.
Along with the above information, workers need to also be able to know, answer, and remember the following:
- Where the MSDs are kept for the chemicals they will be working with and exposed to.
- What kind of threats, hazards, and dangers they will experience should they improperly use any chemicals.
- The steps and emergency procedures to follow should there be a spill or accident.
- How to correctly and fully inspect their PPE to ensure that it is working and functioning properly.
One of the most convenient ways to review with your workers the threats and hazards posed by chemicals in the workplace is through the MSDS Information Review form. This form can communicate vital information relating to chemical use in the workplace and is considered more user friendly than the full MSDS. The full MSDS should be used when more specific information and data is needed and should always be available.
As we all probably remember from our high school or college days, chemistry is a complicated subject that requires conscious effort to remember and know the details and properties of various different chemicals. Some workplaces use dozens of chemicals while others use hundreds. Learning and understanding all of these chemicals will take time, that’s why it is imperative that workers take Hazard Communication Training to better help themselves learn the material. However, unlike high school or college where not knowing the material simply earned you a bad grade, not knowing the material while working in the factory, warehouse, or job site will earn you a trip to the hospital, or worse, the morgue. Know your Hazard Communications so you can create a much safer environment for you and your coworkers.