Safety Is Key
OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) is based on a simple concept - that employees have both a need and a right to know the hazards and identities of the chemicals they are exposed to when working. They also need to know what protective measures are available to prevent adverse effects from occurring. OSHA designed the HCS to provide employees with the information they need to know.
Knowledge acquired under the HCS will help employers provide safer workplaces for their employees. When employees have information about the chemicals being used, they can take steps to reduce exposures, substitute less hazardous materials, and establish proper work practices. These efforts will help prevent the occurrence of work-related illnesses and injuries caused by chemicals.
The HCS addresses the issues of evaluating and communicating chemical hazard information to workers. Evaluation of chemical hazards involves a number of technical concepts, and is a process that requires the professional judgment of experienced experts. That's why the HCS is designed so that employers who simply use chemicals - rather than produce or import them -- are not required to evaluate the hazards of those chemicals. Hazard determination is the responsibility of the manufacturers and importers of the chemicals, who then must provide the hazard information to employers that purchase their products.
Employers that do not produce or import chemicals need only focus on those parts of the rule that deal with establishing a workplace program and communicating information to their workers. This publication is a general guide for such employers to help them determine what the HCS requires. It does not supplant or substitute for the regulatory provisions, but rather provides a simplified outline of the steps an average employer would follow to meet those requirements.
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