An MSDS, or material safety data sheet, is a document that identifies a product and its physical and health hazards. Information such as the hazardous ingredients, physical and chemical characteristics, primary routes of entry, exposure limits, carcinogenicity, precautions for safe handling and emergency and first aid procedures are also included on an MSDS. This document is intended to convey hazards of the chemicals that employees work with on a daily basis.
- To provide a safe working environment by providing employees with the right to know what the hazards are that they are working with and how to handle them
- To provide important information to rescue workers should an emergency occur
- To maintain compliance with the HCS
- To avoid incurring a violation for noncompliance
- Being up to date and compliant is a way to show your employees and the public that you care about the health and safety of your employees
- Pre-emptive planning in regards to safety can save a company money in fines, worker compensation, and reputation
Employees come in to contact with hundreds of thousands of different chemicals. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have estimated that there are over 32 million workers exposed to hazardous chemicals in over 3.5 million workplaces (48 FR 53282). Some jobs require constant, daily exposure to particular products, such as the cleaning industry with cleaning products. Other jobs may be filled with a little more variety. Whatever industry one is employed in, there is a chance that there are chemicals of one sort or another that the employee is being exposed to. Such chemicals can come in the form of the aforementioned cleaning products, or straight chemicals in manufacturing, or even the nail polish remover used in salons. These chemicals, or products, may be harmful to one’s health, either acutely or chronically.
Employee safety, whether be it a tangible physical hazard such as a broken rung on a ladder, or an unseen lethal hazard, such as Freon gas, are both concerns that the OSH Act of 1970 encompasses. The overall general safety is the goal of the standards created by the Secretary of Labor. Thus, it is with this safety in mind that the Hazard Communication Standard, 29 CFR 1900.1200, was promulgated – to inform employees of the hazards associated with the products that they are exposed to on a daily, or less than daily, basis. Armed with the information of such hazards, one may be properly protected against the unseen threats posed by certain chemicals. The Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) was initiated in 1974, though it did not become fully effective and enforced until January 24, 1989. Like other OSHA standards, it is one that has evolved through much debate and decisions and is still changing with new data, new chemicals, and new ways to improve the health and safety of employees in the workplace.
An MSDS inventory is central to the requirements of the HCS. The sheets are the main way that hazards are communicated to the people who work with chemical products. All products must have an associated MSDS from the manufacturer or distributor. A complete physical inventory of the products in your facility performed by HazCommpliance, and the corresponding MSDS search will bring your MSDS inventory up to date and in compliance with the HCS.
What if I don’t have an MSDS inventory, a written communication program, or an employee training program?
Failure to comply with the HCS can result in citations from OSHA. During an inspection from an OSHA compliance officer, an officer “requests a copy of the employer’s Hazard Communication Program. Under OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard, employers must establish a written, comprehensive communication program that includes provisions for container labeling, material safety data sheets, and an employee training program. The program must contain a list of the hazardous chemicals in each work area and the means the employer will use to inform employees of the hazards associated with these chemicals.” (OSHA Inspections, http://www.osha.gov/Publications/osha2098.pdf ).
All industries with chemicals can get inspected and cited if they are not in compliance.
The minimum number of employees a business needs to make them subject to this standard is ONE. Unlike other standards that may have a minimum number of twelve or twenty employees to fall under compliance, the Hazard Communication Standard requires only one employee for an employer to be required to maintain compliance.
One of the most frequently cited CONN-OSHA standards in public schools is 29 CFR 1910.1200, Hazard Communication (2006 CONN-OSHA Quarterly, #47).
The top three cited industries in Connecticut for violations of the Hazard Communication Standard from October 2005 to September 2006 were heavy construction contractors, educational services, and the automotive repair, service and parking industry.
Last year, from October 2006 through September 2007, the most frequently cited were highway and street construction companies (SIC 1611).
All industries that work with products from greases to cleaners to paints are responsible for maintaining compliance under the HCS. Don’t let your industry top next year’s list for the most frequently cited for the standard.
For more details on most cited industries for the HCS, visit
Step 1: Conduct a product inventory at your facility.
–Our field technicians will visit your facility and conduct a thorough physical inventory to document all of your products
–You may conduct a physical inventory and send us a list of the products you have.
Step 2: WE procure the MSDS for your products. They are departmentalized and alphabetized and then uploaded on to your account and ready to access:
To view specific companies, schools or town facilities that have been recently cited and for what violations, visit http://www.osha.gov/pls/imis/industry.html and enter in the appropriate SIC number for the industry. Here are some common two-digit SIC numbers:
Construction……..15, 16, & 17
Printing, Publishing and Allied Industries……..27
Miscellaneous Manufacturing Industries……..39
Educational Services (including schools)……..82
Colleges, Universities & Professional Schools……..82 & 73
Municipalities, Building Cleaning and others……..73
For a more complete list of SIC numbers, visit http://www.osha.gov/pls/imis/sic_manual.html
How much the violation costs depends on the type as follows:
Willful: A willful violation is defined as a violation in which the employer knew that a hazardous condition existed but made no reasonable effort to eliminate it and in which the hazardous condition violated a standard, regulation, or the OSH Act. Penalties range from $5,000 to $70,000 per willful violation
Serious: A serious violation exists when the workplace hazard could cause injury or illness that would most likely result in death or serious physical harm, unless the employer did not know or could not have known of the violation. OSHA may propose a penalty of up to $7,000 for each violation.
Other-Than-Serious: An other-than-serious violation is defined as a situation in which the most serious injury or illness that would be likely to result from a hazardous condition cannot reasonably be predicted to cause death or serious physical harm to exposed employees but does have a direct and immediate relationship to their safety and health. OSHA may impose a penalty of up to $7,000 for each violation.
De Minimis: De minimis violations are violations that have no direct or immediate relationship to safety or health and do not result in citations.
Other: A violation that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but is not serious in nature, is classified as “other.”
Failure to Abate: A failure to abate violation exists when the employer has not corrected a violation for which OSHA has issued a citation and the abatement date has passed or is covered under a settlement agreement. A failure to abate also exists when the employer has not complied with interim measures involved in a long-term abatement within the time given. OSHA may impose a penalty of up to $7,000 per day for each violation.
Repeated: An employer may be cited for a repeated violation if that employer has been cited previously for a substantially similar condition and the citation has become a final order of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. A citation is currently viewed as a repeated violation if it occurs within 3 years either from the date that the earlier citation becomes a final order or from the final abatement date, whichever is later. Repeated violations can bring a civil penalty of up to $70,000 for each violation.
Our clients are quite capable of maintaining compliance on their own. Like most things, however, bringing an inventory up to date takes time. A lot of time. For those who have a current inventory and MSDS book and feel confident that their inventory is full of products that need to be there – keep up the good work. For those who have inventories that need to be reassessed for an accurate updating and/or clean out, this service is a practical, economic solution. Instead of using the manpower of a useful employee to be thorough with an inventory and search, spending possibly hundreds of hours, outsourcing the task to HazCommpliance is a more viable option.
Contact Jennifer at HazCommpliance for a free consultation
Call Us: (860) 253-0050
Fax Us: (860) 741-9092
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