OSHA’s Hazard Communication is referred to as HAZCOM. This is vital in ensuring workers understand the chemical hazards they must face during the performance of their duties. There is sometimes confusion concerning the standard and what is required. There are hazards to the safety and health of the workers from chemicals at the workplace. HAZCOM is comprised of rules to ensure workers have the correct information regarding these chemicals. The core requirements state a written plan for hazard communication be given to all employees. This information includes details pertaining to all hazardous chemicals present at the workplace, a plan to control the hazards and the communication of this plan to all employees. Proper labeling is required for all hazardous chemicals. Workers must have access to safety data sheets for every hazardous chemical. Proper training must be provided for employees regarding the potential hazards and proper methods of protection.
The Construction Standard
The construction industry HAZCOM standard is identical to that of the general industry. The challenge is in the construction environments’ collaborative nature. Employers must ensure all workers are informed and trained. This includes employees from other companies and outside contractors. If a construction site accident occurs equal liability may be shared by any employees for the incident as well as the responsibility of ensuring the accident does not reoccur. This is a challenge due to the subcontractors and multiple agencies working together.
Communication and Coordination
Communication regarding the proper training of all employees and HAZCOM programs are the responsibility of the employers. A plan for communicating hazard procedures for the site must be included in the written HAZCOM plan. Methods to learn and identify new hazards on the job and methods for hazard recognition should be emphasized in the employee training.
GHS is an abbreviation for the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling. This is an international system for communication and classification regarding hazardous chemicals. This provides a system for rating and categorizing chemical hazards. The system recommends ways to place this information on safety data sheets and container labels. The HAZCOM standards were brought in line by OSHA in 2012 according to the GHS recommendations. Most of the GSG elements have been incorporated by OSHA to reduce costs, prevent confusion, and streamline the processes. The standards of GHS are being incorporated all over the world. This makes hazard compliance and communication simpler for international work crews and multi-national operations.
Anytime an employee is potentially exposed to hazardous chemicals HAZCOM training is required. This means any site employee excluding self employed contractors and owners, that can potentially make skin contact, ingest, or inhale hazardous chemicals, or be impacted by physicals hazards, explosions, or fires must be provided with HAZCOM training. This must be provided to the employee the first time their job includes chemical exposure or when they are hired providing they have not previously been trained in HAZCOM. This training must also be provided when any new chemical hazards are presented or there are any changes to the chemical hazard degree. If an employee does not understand the safety measures or hazards they are facing it is recommended to perform additional training.
For more information about construction site safety, contact T.F. Harper & Associates LP, located in Austin, TX.