Under OSHA’s revised Hazard Communication Standard (Hazcom 2012), employers are required to train employees on the new label elements and safety data sheet (SDS) format by Dec. 1, 2013. OSHA has many resources available online to assist employers and chemical manufacturers, importers, and distributors as the new requirements are phased in. Over the summer, the agency held a webinar to provide details about the new training requirements and address common questions OSHA has received from stakeholders. The webinar was cosponsored by the Society for Chemical Hazard Communication (SCHC). An archive is available to view at no cost.
Two representatives of OSHA’s Directorate of Standards and Guidance conducted the webinar. Jennifer H. Lawless, an OSHA industrial hygienist, began by summarizing what OSHA has done to spread the word about the new hazard communication requirements. According to Lawless, many employers don’t understand parts of the Hazard Communication Standard that were finalized many years ago, let alone the changes brought about by the 2012 revision.
“Many of the questions we’ve received over the past year often pertain to the longstanding requirements of the standard rather than the new provisions that were introduced in Hazcom 2012,” Lawless said.
OSHA recommends that employers begin their training with an explanation of what employees will gain from the new hazard communication requirements, Lawless said. The training should explain that employees will soon see the new labels and SDSs, and that information on hazards is being standardized so that it will appear in a consistent format no matter which company produces it.
“To make the training effective, it’s always beneficial to provide examples from your workplace—the chemicals that your employees are working with,” Lawless said.
Lawless also explained the agency’s requirement that the training be “effective.” “This means the training has to work,” she said. “Employees must be able to carry the knowledge from the training into their daily jobs.”
For more information about the revisions to OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard, visit OSHA’s website.