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Chemical Safety: What You Need to Know About Hazard Communication

Posted by EHS Insight Resources on March 3, 2017 at 10:23 AM

Hazard communication is important—not just for fulfilling OSHA requirements, but also to engender safety and trust within your organization. Here’s what you need to know.

A Good Hazard Communication Standard Helps First Responders

Since you’re in the business of keeping your workplace safe and compliant, we’ll assume that you understand the basic concepts behind maintaining an effective hazard communication standard (HCS): it keeps your workers informed, thereby contributing to an overall safer workplace for everyone.

Diving deeper, there are lots of other reasons to focus on developing the best HCS you can manage. One is that if your organization does happen to experience an incident involving hazardous chemicals, first responders to that incident will be better able to do their jobs if all your chemical safety duck are lined up in a row.

It’s essential, when responding to chemical incidents, to know exactly what chemical(s) you’re dealing with. Being there to inform first responders, should they need to be called in, can mean the difference between no injuries, serious injury, and even death, in extreme cases.

An effective HCS involves:

  • Up-to-date inventory
  • Fast and easy access to inventory data
  • Access to inventory data for all the right people

When first responders arrive on the scene, your staff should be able to assist them quickly and easily by accessing inventory data about chemicals involved in the incident.

First responders also need to know about which chemicals are stored on-site in general. The potential hazardous mixing of chemicals that may arise as the result of a safety incident can mean secondary incidents might occur.

They’ll also need to know how much of each chemical is stored on-site. They may even want to know delivery dates and expiration dates of the chemicals stored at your facility. EHS software is key in situations like this.

Your Hazard Communications Data Should Be Accessible from Multiple Points and to Multiple Staff

An HCS that’s stored locally won’t do you much good if there’s an emergency and you’re barred from entering certain areas of your workplace. Access from any device is key. It’s also important to grant access to multiple key personnel in case you’re not around.

Your HCS Should Be Easy to Understand So That It Instills Trust

Finally, a clear, plain-language HCS is essential at your organization so that everyone feels confident he or she understands the risks involved within the workplace. Understandability is now an OSHA-granted right, but it just makes sense to have a hazards communication program that all your workers feel comfortable managing.

Topics: EHS Management, Workplace Health and Safety, SDS, OSHA, Compliance, Chemicals

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