Understanding the hazard communication standard

Hoard's Dairyman: 

Understanding the hazard communication standard

Date: 
Mon, 09/16/2013

Ensure chemical safety on your dairy.

on-farm chemicals

by Taylor Pires, Hoard’s Dairyman Editorial Intern

Employers have a duty to keep their employees safe. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) promotes employee safety through The Hazard Communication Standard (HCS). This document enforces safe practices by clearly identifying any hazards associated with chemicals in the workplace. Employers must make their employees aware of these hazards, provide written protocols and train employees to protect themselves. The HCS, previously known as “The Right to Know” standard, has been changed to make it easier for employees to identify and understand the hazards of working with chemicals.

Major changes include:

  • Hazard classification: provides criteria for classifying health and physical hazards
  • Labels: chemical manufacturers and importers will be required to provide a label and Safety Data Sheets (SDS) with a harmonized signal word, pictogram and hazard statement for each hazard class and category
  • Safety Data Sheets: updated from Material Safety Data Sheets, SDS will have a specific 16 section format

As part of their responsibilities to their employees, employers must provide training by December 1, 2013. Workers must understand the new label information and SDS format. A written hazard communication program is also required to be in compliance with this standard. Make sure your program has the following:

  • Someone designated to oversee the program
  • An inventory of workplace chemicals
  • Properly labeled chemicals
  • A filed SDS for each chemical
  • Employees that are trained to protect themselves and to read product labels and SDS

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The author is the 25th Hoard’s Dairyman editorial intern. She is a senior at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. At Cal Poly, Taylor is majoring in dairy science with an agricultural communications minor. Pires grew up on a 500-cow dairy in Merced County, Calif.

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