Hazard Communication Standard

Last updated: June 20, 2018

What Does Hazard Communication Standard Mean?

The Hazard Communication Standard (HazCom) is an OSHA standard that covers the classification and labeling of chemical hazards. Its aim is to ensure that all workers can quickly identify the hazards associated with the chemicals in their workplace or on the jobsite and know which precautions to take when handling those chemicals.

HazCom is sometimes referred to as the "worker right to know" or "employee right to know" standard due to the fact that it provides employees with key information about the chemical hazards they may encounter on the job.

The HazCom standard is enforced under the regulations found in OSHA's 29 CFR 1910.1200.

Safeopedia Explains Hazard Communication Standard

The Hazard Communication Standard imposes requirements on employers in order to ensure that chemical hazards are easily identifiable and controlled. Under the standard, employers must:

  • Implement a written HazCom policy
  • Maintain an inventory of all chemicals used or stored on each of the employer's worksites
  • Provide employees' access to safety data sheets (SDS) for all the chemicals included in that inventory
  • Ensure that each chemical container is properly labeled
  • Train employees on the HazCom standard as well as the specific chemical hazards they might encounter while working

HazCom does not apply to the initial packaging of chemical products but at all times when a chemical is stored or use on site. This means that any HazCom labels that peel or fade sufficient must be replaced with a newer, more legible one.

HazCom and the GHS

The HazCom standard's requirements align with those set out by the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).

The GHS provides universal guidelines for labeling chemical hazards, including signal words and a set of pictograms that identify the type of risk posed by a given chemical.

GHS Pictograms (source: Emory University)

Safety Data Sheets

One element of HazCom is the maintenance of safety data sheets for each chemical product onsite.

An SDS is a document that outlines critical safety information about the product, such as the hazards associated with it, the PPE required for handling it safely, and how to store it.



Worker Right to Know

Employee Right to Know

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