Hazard Communication in Health Care

Hazard Communication in Health Care

Health care industry employers with employees who may be exposed to hazardous chemicals in the workplace must comply with the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard. This standard is designed to ensure that employers and employees know about hazardous chemicals in the workplace and how to protect themselves. These employers must comply with the standard's requirements, such as:

  • Developing, implementing, and maintaining a written hazard communication program at each workplace. This program must contain (among other things) a list of the hazardous chemicals known to be present, using a product identifier that is referenced on the appropriate safety data sheet (the list may be compiled for the workplace as a whole or for individual work areas).
  • Providing employees with effective information and training on hazardous chemicals in their work area at the time of their initial assignment, and whenever a new chemical hazard the employees have not been previously trained about is introduced into their work area.
    • Note: Information and training may be designed to cover categories of hazards (e.g., flammability or carcinogenicity) or specific chemicals. However, chemical-specific information must always be available through labels and safety data sheets.
  • Having a safety data sheet in the workplace for each hazardous chemical which an employer uses.
  • Providing employee training which includes:
    • Methods and observations that may be used to detect the presence or release of a hazardous chemical in the work area (such as monitoring conducted by the employer, continuous monitoring devices, visual appearance, or odor of hazardous chemicals when being released, etc.);
    • The physical, health, simple asphyxiation, combustible dust, and pyrophoric gas hazards, as well as hazards not otherwise classified, of the chemicals in the work area;
    • The measures employees can take to protect themselves from these hazards, including specific procedures the employer has implemented to protect employees from exposure to hazardous chemicals, such as appropriate work practices, emergency procedures, and personal protective equipment to be used; and
    • The details of the hazard communication program developed by the employer, including an explanation of the labels received on shipped containers and the workplace labeling system used by the employer; the safety data sheet, including the order of information and how employees can obtain and use the appropriate hazard information.

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