Many jobs require the use of chemical products. Whether your job description includes ceramics or print making, general maintenance, custodial duties, grounds keeping, or painting, you will use chemical products during the course of your work. Those products can present varying degrees of physical and health hazards. Even products commonly found in our households and home workshops can present hazards when used on a regular basis in the workplace. To address this risk, OSHA finalized the Hazard Communication, or “Right to Know” Standard (HCS) in 1985 which requires employers to train any employee who works with hazardous chemicals on the following topics:
- What chemical substances are present in the products they handle,
- what health effects those chemicals are capable of causing in the event of an overexposure,
- what precautions are necessary to protect from exposure,
- what physical hazards are possible if the product is not handled properly,
- and how to handle the product in order to avoid hazards.
Global Harmonization System (GHS) and HazCom 2012
More recently, growing international trade resulted in inconsitencies in chemical labeling and hazard classifications. In 2012, the HCS was revised to address those inconsistencies by adopting a "globally harmonized system", or "GHS", established by the United Nations. This finalized standard is referred to as "HazCom 2012" and includes the new GHS requirements. The GHS system makes the communication of hazards consistent through pictograms and other means that overcome language barriers and provides information to chemical handlers through one label, as opposed to the many labels and languages formerly used to label chemical products. The GHS also provides a uniform approach to evaluating the classifying hazards, and to communicating those hazards through Safety Data Sheets or SDS's (formerly known as Material Safety Data Sheets or MSDSs).
NAU's Hazard Communication Program
NAU's HCP has been updated to reflect the revised standard and GHS system, and is designed to provide employees with the information they need to work safely through training, container labeling and safety data sheets. The following links will connect you with NAU's HazCom program components: