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OSHA's Hazard Communications Standard: Training Requirements

Copied direct from the OSHA web page for 29 CFR 1910.1200, January 12th, 1998 (Reviewed Dec. 2007):

1910.1200 - Hazard Communication

-Standard Number: 1910.1200
-Standard Title: Hazard Communication
-SubPart Number: Z
-SubPart Title: Toxic and Hazardous Substances


"Employee information and training."


Employers shall provide employees with effective information and training on hazardous chemicals in their work area at the time of their initial assignment, and whenever a new physical or health hazard the employees have not previously been trained about is introduced into their work area. Information and training may be designed to cover categories of hazards (e.g., flammability, carcinogenicity) or specific chemicals. Chemical-specific information must always be available through labels and material safety data sheets.


"Information." Employees shall be informed of:


The requirements of this section;


Any operations in their work area where hazardous chemicals are present; and,


The location and availability of the written hazard communication program, including the required list(s) of hazardous chemicals, and material safety data sheets required by this section.


"Training." Employee training shall include at least:


Methods and observations that may be used to detect the presence or release of a hazardous chemical in the work area (such as monitoring conducted by the employer, continuous monitoring devices, visual appearance or odor of hazardous chemicals when being released, etc.);


The physical and health hazards of the chemicals in the work area;


The measures employees can take to protect themselves from these hazards, including specific procedures the employer has implemented to protect employees from exposure to hazardous chemicals, such as appropriate work practices, emergency procedures, and personal protective equipment to be used; and,


The details of the hazard communication program developed by the employer, including an explanation of the labeling system and the material safety data sheet, and how employees can obtain and use the appropriate hazard information.

Advisory Guidelines for Employer Compliance

Standard Number: 1910.1200 App E
Standard Title: Guidelines for Employer Compliance (Advisory)
SubPart Number: Z
SubPart Title: Toxic and Hazardous Substances

C. "Employee Information and Training"

Each employee who may be "exposed" to hazardous chemicals when working must be provided information and trained prior to initial assignment to work with a hazardous chemical, and whenever the hazard changes. "Exposure" or "exposed" under the rule means that "an employee is subjected to a hazardous chemical in the course of employment through any route of entry (inhalation, ingestion, skin contact or absorption, etc.) and includes potential (e.g., accidental or possible) exposure." See paragraph (h) of this section for specific requirements. Information and training may be done either by individual chemical, or by categories of hazards (such as flammability or carcinogenicity). If there are only a few chemicals in the workplace, then you may want to discuss each one individually. Where there are large numbers of chemicals, or the chemicals change frequently, you will probably want to train generally based on the hazard categories (e.g., flammable liquids, corrosive materials, carcinogens). Employees will have access to the substance-specific information on the labels and MSDSs.

Information and training is a critical part of the hazard communication program. Information regarding hazards and protective measures are provided to workers through written labels and material safety data sheets. However, through effective information and training, workers will learn to read and understand such information, determine how it can be obtained and used in their own workplaces, and understand the risks of exposure to the chemicals in their workplaces as well as the ways to protect themselves. A properly conducted training program will ensure comprehension and understanding. It is not sufficient to either just read material to the workers, or simply hand them material to read. You want to create a climate where workers feel free to ask questions. This will help you to ensure that the information is understood. You must always remember that the underlying purpose of the HCS is to reduce the incidence of chemical source illnesses and injuries. This will be accomplished by modifying behavior through the provision of hazard information and information about protective measures. If your program works, you and your workers will better understand the chemical hazards within the workplace. The procedures you establish regarding, for example, purchasing, storage, and handling of these chemicals will improve, and thereby reduce the risks posed to employees exposed to the chemical hazards involved. Furthermore, your workers' comprehension will also be increased, and proper work practices will be followed in your workplace.

If you are going to do the training yourself, you will have to understand the material and be prepared to motivate the workers to learn. This is not always an easy task, but the benefits are worth the effort. More information regarding appropriate training can be found in OSHA Publication No. 2254 which contains voluntary training guidelines prepared by OSHA's Training Institute. A copy of this document is available from OSHA's Publications Office at (202) 219-4667. In reviewing your written program with regard to information and training, the following items need to be considered:

1. Designation of person(s) responsible for conducting training;

2. Format of the program to be used (audiovisuals, classroom instruction, etc.);

3. Elements of the training program (should be consistent with the elements in paragraph (h) of this section); and,

4. Procedure to train new employees at the time of their initial assignment to work with a hazardous chemical, and to train employees when a new hazard is introduced into the workplace.

The written program should provide enough details about the employer's plans in this area to assess whether or not a good faith effort is being made to train employees. OSHA does not expect that every worker will be able to recite all of the information about each chemical in the workplace. In general, the most important aspects of training under the HCS are to ensure that employees are aware that they are exposed to hazardous chemicals, that they know how to read and use labels and material safety data sheets, and that, as a consequence of learning this information, they are following the appropriate protective measures established by the employer. OSHA compliance officers will be talking to employees to determine if they have received training, if they know they are exposed to hazardous chemicals, and if they know where to obtain substance-specific information on labels and MSDSs.

The rule does not require employers to maintain records of employee training, but many employers choose to do so. This may help you monitor your own program to ensure that all employees are appropriately trained. If you already have a training program, you may simply have to supplement it with whatever additional information is required under the HCS. For example, construction employers that are already in compliance with the construction training standard (29 CFR 1926.21) will have little extra training to do.

An employer can provide employees information and training through whatever means are found appropriate and protective. Although there would always have to be some training on-site (such as informing employees of the location and availability of the written program and MSDSs), employee training may be satisfied in part by general training about the requirements of the HCS and about chemical hazards on the job which is provided by, for example, trade associations, unions, colleges, and professional schools. In addition, previous training, education and experience of a worker may relieve the employer of some of the burdens of informing and training that worker. Regardless of the method relied upon, however, the employer is always ultimately responsible for ensuring that employees are adequately trained. If the compliance officer finds that the training is deficient, the employer will be cited for the deficiency regardless of who actually provided the training on behalf of the employer.

Note! This information was taken directly from the OSHA web site. The date the information was taken is listed at the top. This page may not reflect updates or corrections published at a later date or printed in the Federal Register.