Employee exposure to hazardous chemicals, such as pesticides, disinfectants, and hazardous drugs in the
OSHA requires that employers implement a written program that meets the requirements of the
Communication Standard (HCS) to provide for worker training, warning labels, and access to Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs).
The Hazard Communication Standard ensures employee awareness of the hazardous chemicals they are exposed to in the workplace.
Agents with any of the following characteristics are considered hazardous: carcinogens, corrosives, toxic or highly toxic, irritants,
sensitizers, or target organ effectors. Hazard Communication Standard
Appendix A and
chemicals listed in 29 CFR 1910.1000 Table 2.
- Use both human and animal data in this determination. The Hazard Communication Standard
Appendix B lists
sources of toxicity information.
- There are exceptions to some of the requirements of the HCS for consumer products that are subjected to the labeling requirements
of the terms as defined in the Consumer Product Safety Act and the Federal Hazardous Substances Act
- For example, OSHA does not require that MSDSs be provided to purchasers of household consumer products when the products are used
in the workplace in the same manner that a consumer would use them i.e., where the duration and frequency of use (and therefore
exposure) is not greater than what the typical consumer would experience. This exemption applies to many of the cleaning products used
in nursing homes.
- Provide readily available
Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) for all hazardous chemicals.
- Train workers in potential chemical hazards and controls (engineering controls, work practices, PPE) necessary to prevent hazards
in the work area [29
- Clearly label as hazardous all hazardous chemicals such as those found in some soaps, disinfectants, and pesticides
[29 CFR 1910.1200(f)].
Provide appropriate PPE: (e.g., gloves, goggles, splash aprons) when
handling hazardous dishwashing detergents and chemicals
[29 CFR 1910.132].
For more information see Healthcare Wide Hazards - (Lack of) Personal Protective Equipment.
Medical Services and First Aid: Where the eyes or body of any person may be exposed
to injurious corrosive materials, provide suitable facilities for quick drenching or flushing of the eyes and body within the work area
for immediate emergency use [29 CFR 1910.151(c)].
An employer may choose to use a product that is not considered hazardous.
For additional hazardous drugs information, see Pharmacy.
- Hazard Communication. OSHA Safety and Health Topics Page.
- Small Business Handbook. OSHA Publication 2209, (2005). Helps small business employers meet the legal requirements imposed by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (the Act), and achieve an in-compliance status before an OSHA inspection.
- 29 CFR 1910.1200. OSHA Hazard Communication Standard (HCS).
- Appendix E,
Guidelines for Employer Compliance with the Hazard Communication standard.