Did you know that as an employee, you have a Right to Know about the hazardous materials used in your work area and the potential effects of these materials upon your health and safety? In fact, every company which produces and uses hazardous materials must provide their employees with information and training on the proper handling and use of these materials.
Below are some key terms used in OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard and some terms used to control both physical and health hazards.
KEY TERMS and ELEMENTS OF THE OSHA HAZARD COMMUNICATION STANDARD
Materials Inventory: A list of the hazardous materials present in your work area.
Material Safety Data Sheets: A detailed description of each hazardous material listed in the Materials Inventory.
Labeling: Containers of hazardous materials must have labels which identify the material and warn of its potential hazard to employees.
Training: All employees must be trained to identify and work safely with hazardous materials.
In order to tie all the above together, a written program must be developed.
CONTROLLING PHYSICAL AND HEALTH HAZARDS
Product Substitution: Because many chemicals do similar jobs, it is important to select chemicals that do a good job, while being less toxic.
Engineering Controls: Well designed work areas minimize exposure to materials which are hazardous. Examples of engineering controls would include exhaust systems and wetting systems to control dust.
Safe Work Practices: Safe work practices will insure that chemicals are used correctly and safely.
Personal Protective Equipment: Masks, eye protection, gloves, aprons, and other protective equipment and clothing are designed to protect you while you work.
Training and Communication: Knowing how to work safely with chemicals that pose a hazard is an important activity. You have a right to know, but you also have a responsibility to use the knowledge and skills to work safely.
Environmental Monitoring: Industrial hygiene personnel regularly sample the air and collect other samples to insure that hazardous chemicals do not exceed established acceptable exposure limits.
Personal Monitoring: Monitor yourself and others. Be on the lookout for any physical symptoms which would indicate that you or your coworkers have been overexposed to any hazardous chemical. Symptoms, such as skin rashes, dizziness, eye or throat irritations or strong odors, should be reported to your supervisor.