First aid and workplace safety
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About 32 million workers are potentially exposed to chemical hazards. There are an estimated 575,000 chemical products in the market and hundreds of new chemicals are introduced each year.
Every employee has the right to know about any hazardous chemicals that they might encounter in their jobs. In response to the seriousness of the issue, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a rule called “Hazard Communication.” The basic goal of the rule is to ensure that employers and employees are aware of work hazards and know how to protect themselves.
The program is commonly called the “Employee Right to Know Law” (OSHA, 29 CFR 1910, Subpart Z, Toxic and Hazardous Substances).
In order to comply with the program:
- There must be a written hazard communications program.
- A list of hazardous chemicals must be posted at the job site or in the shop.
- Chemicals must be listed by product name on the appropriate Material Safety Data Sheets.
- Employers must obtain copies of required MSDS for each hazardous chemical.
- A list of hazardous chemicals and a MSDS must be available to employees and on the job or work site.
- Chemicals must be properly labeled, tagged or marked and identified as hazardous.
- New employees must be provided with information and training on products containing hazardous chemicals.
Chemical manufacturers and importers must develop and distribute an MSDS for each hazardous chemical they produce or import. Each MSDS includes information regarding the specific chemical identity of the hazardous chemical(s) involved and their common names. In addition, information must be provided on:
- Physical and chemical characteristics of the hazardous chemical.
- Known acute and chronic health effects and related health information.
- Exposure limits.
- Whether the chemical is considered a carcinogen.
- Precautionary measures.
- Emergency and first-aid procedures.
- Identification of the organization responsible for preparing the sheet.
Employers must establish a training and information program for employees exposed to hazardous chemicals in their work area. Under this “Right to Know” program, employees have the right to:
- Review the hazard communication program and the list of hazardous chemicals and/or MSDS on request.
- Know the location and storage areas of all hazardous substances.
- Know how to obtain full chemical disclosure information and how to read an MSDS.
- Know the meaning of common technical terms found in a MSDS.
- Know how to identify substances, including their brand name, common product names, and the appearance and odor of products (usually found in the MSDS).
A supervisor should also explain:
- Definitions and types of physical and health hazards.
- Physical and health hazards of each product used on the job (usually found in the MSDS).
- How employees can protect themselves from hazardous chemicals (usually found in the MSDS).
- Proper storage and handling methods.
- How to use personal protection equipment. The use of available safety equipment is the employer’s responsibility.
- Emergency fire and clean-up procedures.
The Safety Training Report form must be completed after conducting training sessions. The completed forms should be sent to the personnel department to document compliance.