What Your Employees Need to Know about Hazardous Materials

455th_AEW_Hazardous_Materials_Exercise_DVIDS275970Employees have both a need and right to know about their risks concerning hazardous materials. Appropriate knowledge of best practices within a workplace encourages safety and compliance.

OSHA provides employers with something called a Hazardous Communication Standard (HCS) which operates in harmony with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling Chemicals (GHS). In addition to answering employees’ right to “know” about office hazards, the standard also seeks to fulfill their right to “understand.”

Shield Engineering works with employers all over the country to develop facility-wide best practices for industrial hygiene and more. We also help identify risks and, in some cases, our Action Environmental team can assist in managing the cleanup after hazardous materials are handled improperly. Broadly, what do your employees need to know about hazardous materials?


Which Workplace Materials are Hazardous?

It is your duty to initiate all staff members on the intricacies of the equipment, chemicals, and materials of your job site. While OSHA says it is not your responsibility to independently analyze chemicals to determine their hazard level, it is imperative that your facility maintain accurate, up-to-date records regarding which potentially hazardous materials are on-site, where they are stored, and when they are likely to be encountered by employees.

What Does Your Written Hazard Policy Say?

OSHA requires all facilities where employees may be exposed to hazardous materials to provide a written plan regarding how the facility is expected to implement OSHA’s HCS. Although some facilities use a templated, generic plan for compliance purposes, it is highly advisable that workplaces customize their plan specifically for their unique facility.

How to Identify Hazardous Materials

One of the most important steps in any hazard identification plan is proper labeling. All in-plant containers of hazardous (or potentially hazardous) materials must be adequately marked or tagged with effective labels. In large facilities, regulatory compliance dictates that at least one individual be responsible for ensuring proper labeling facility-wide.

How to Handle Hazardous Materials and Avoid Risks

The type of hazardous material training your employee(s) are required by law to complete will vary widely depending on your industry and operation. That said, proper and continuous training ensures that as businesses evolve, employees will always know what is expected of them. Best practices for hazardous material handling, risk prevention, and disposal are always unique to each facility; mandatory on-site training sessions shouldn’t be considered a requirement but instead an investment in the safety of the facility and its employees.

If you have concerns about whether or not your employees are adequately prepared to safely handle hazardous materials in your workplace, reach out to Shield’s experienced team today. We fully understand the complex network of compliance regulations facing your business but also recognize the inherent risks no compliance manual could adequately cover.

From on-site employee training to industrial hygiene and more, Shield Engineering is your one-stop shop for comprehensive hazmat services.


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