Hazard Communication Standard requires that employers inform employees
of the hazards and the identities of workplace chemicals to which
they are exposed.
chemicals are covered by the Hazard Communication Standard?
hazardous chemicals are covered by this standard. Some hazardous
chemicals cause or contribute to direct health effects such as
heart ailments, lung damage, cancer, and rashes, among others.
Other hazardous chemicals are safety hazards and have the potential
to cause fires and explosions and other serious accidents.
And some chemicals have both health and safety hazards.
are the responsibilities of an employer under the Hazard Communication
- toxic or highly toxic agents
- reproductive toxins
- agents which act on the hematopoietic system
- agents which damage the lungs, skin, eyes, or mucous membranes
- combustible liquids
- compressed gases
- organic peroxides
- unstable (reactive) chemicals
- water-reactive chemicals.
have 4 basic responsibilities under the Hazard Communication Standard:
and list hazardous chemicals in their workplaces. For most chemicals,
an employer can rely on the Material Safety Data Sheets that are
provided by chemical manufacturers to identify the hazards.
- Obtain Material Safety
Data Sheets (MSDSs) and labels for each hazardous
chemical, if not provided by the manufacturer, importer, or distributor
The employer needs to have a MSDS for each hazardous chemical
identified and listed as present in the workplace.
The MSDSs for hazardous chemicals in a given worksite must be
readily available for review by the workers during each
In the workplace, each container must be labeled, tagged,
or marked with the identity of hazardous chemicals it contains.
Hazard warnings may be words, pictures, or symbols. View
Labels must be in English (plus other languages, if desired).
Under some circumstances, signs, placards, standard operating
procedures, or batch tickets may substitute for individual container
Portable containers do not have to be labeled if 1) the contents
are transferred from labeled containers and 2) the contents are
intended for the immediate use of the employee who makes
and implement a written hazard communication program, including
labels, MSDSs, and employee training and the list of chemicals,
MSDSs, and label information.
A comprehensive written hazard communication
program will include:
- provisions for container labeling;
- collection and availability of MSDSs
- employee training program
- list of hazardous chemicals
- how employees will be informed of hazards of non-routine tasks
and the hazards of chemicals in unlabeled pipes
- procedures for sharing hazard information with other employers
Sample written programs are shown in Appendix E of OSHA Directive CPL
02-02-038 [CPL 2-2.38D].
hazard information to their employees through labels, MSDSs, and
formal training programs. Employees who are exposed to hazardous
chemicals must be trained when they first work with the chemicals
(and whenever there is a new hazard on which they have not been
Elements of the information/training program:
- requirements of the standard
- components and implementation of employer’s program
- operations where hazardous chemicals are present, and the hazards
of the chemicals
- measures employees can take to protect themselves
- protective measures implemented by employer (engineering controls,
work practices, or personal protective equipment)
- methods and observations (appearance or smell) workers can use
to detect the presence of hazardous chemicals
OSHA requirements for hazard communication are contained in 29
CFR 1910.1200, Hazard communication and its appendices.
explanation of the OSHA requirements for hazard
communication can be found in OSHA's Small
Business Handbook (OSHA Publication 2209-02R).
Also available as a 260 KB PDF,
OSHA publications and documents that will be helpful to the user
of this eTool are:
OSHA standards that apply to the safe use of hazardous chemicals
are contained in:
NOTE: Employers in states with state-run safety and health plans should
check with their state
agency. Their state may be in enforcing standards that, while
"as effective as federal standards," may not be identical to the
Contact the OSHA Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management at 202-693-2300
for assistance accessing PDF materials.