It is critical for a work establishment to have well-defined safety protocols and procedures ready for any possible emergency. This is especially important in facilities that utilize and manufacture substances and specialized materials that can pose serious threats to your health and safety.
There are instances however, when hazardous materials and threats to safety are unidentified, inadequately classified, or inadvertently overlooked. There are also cases where employees and employers are completely unaware of the dangers that are actually present in the workplace. A means of identifying and informing employees of such hazards must therefore be put into effect – to prevent as well as help them to properly respond to crisis situations.
One of the simplest and most indispensable means of communicating hazards is with the use of right-to-know and hazcomlabels. Right-to-know and hazcom labels are required by law to protect employees and citizens from hazardous chemicals in the workplace. These help prevent accidents from happening by educating people about the potential risks that are involved with them.
There is no set standard as yet when it comes to the format that these stick-ons should have, but labels that are used for this purpose are required to detail the following:
- The identity of the substance, listed in its common or chemical name.
- Necessary hazard warnings.
- The name as well as the address of the chemical manufacturer, distributor, or other responsible party.
To provide a standard for ensuring that employees are aware of potential hazards in the workplace, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) created and enforced the Hazard Communication Standard. Also known as the Right-To-Know Law, this regulation provides guidelines that detail the proper way of handling and dealing with hazardous chemicals and substances that are used in any facility.
As such, the use of hazcom labels complies with these regulations, by serving the following purposes:
- Communication. According to OSHA regulations, employers are required to devise a written plan that outlines the various hazardous chemicals present in the workplace and why these materials pose a threat. They should also include emergency procedures necessary to deal with these chemicals safely in the event of an accident or untoward incident. Labels provide people with practical means of classifying and organizing these substances.
- Identification. All chemical containers are required to have accurate content identification. This should also include proper safety measures necessary when handling these containers. Labels provide you with a simple and effective tool to accomplish this.
- Training. In addition to labeling rules, hazard communication policies must also include a training program. In this program, employees must be educated about the hazard plan, are instructed of emergency procedures, and are provided ample opportunity to ask pertinent questions.
Right-to-know and hazard labels help initiate a proper system of documentation of the different substances used and manufactured in any facility or establishment. Facilities that implement the appropriate labeling system not only conform to government-mandated regulations but, with these labels, establishments keep their employees informed of potential job hazards. These also allow them to perform their work in a safe and secure work environment.