Why is HAZCOM training important in the workplace?


HAZCOM training in the workplace is important to protect workers from the chemical hazards they face while working on the job and to comply with OSHA's standards. Unfortunately, not everyone realizes this, as OSHA named "failure to comply with OSHA's Hazard Communication Standards (1910.1200) " the 2nd most frequently cited standard with a total of 4,176 violations in 2016.

We've developed this article to help you understand the basics of what HAZCOM training is, when it's required, and how you can comply with OSHA's HAZCOM training standard.

What is HAZCOM training?

OSHA's 1910.1200 Hazard Communication Standard, commonly referred to as HAZCOM, are rules and regulations in place to  ensure workers are informed of any chemical hazards they may encounter while on the job. The HAZCOM standard requires organizations have proper container labeling and safety data sheets to communicate the potential dangers the chemicals pose and what to do in the event of an emergency. As such, a critical part of OSHA’s HAZCOM requirements is that employers need to provide employees with proper training on how to remain safe when working with hazardous chemicals.

When is HAZCOM training required?

HAZCOM training should occur at the time of an employee’s initial assignment, and whenever a new chemical is introduced into their work area. It is not required to be re-administered annually.

While OSHA does not specify a particular format for such training, organizations should always aim for the most effective training format for the topic at hand. It’s also important to remember that in addition to employee training, HAZCOM standards require chemical-specific information to always be available through labels and safety data sheets.

2 hazwoper workers in HAZMAT suits investigating a truck

What does HAZCOM training need to cover?

The training can cover categories of hazards (e.g. carcinogenicity) or specific chemicals, but OSHA outlines several key topics that need to be included. For example, employees must be trained in the methods used to detect the presence of the hazardous chemicals in the work area. This includes how to read monitoring devices, as well as the visual appearance or odor when chemicals are released.

HAZCOM training must also include the various hazards that may result due to unprotected exposure to chemicals. This ranges from potential physical and health hazards, to more specific combustible dust and pyrophoric gas hazards. Any hazards that are not otherwise classified but may still pose a risk due to the presence of a chemical, must also be included. Furthermore, it is critical employees are trained in the measures they can take to protect themselves from these hazards. Any specific safety procedures that an organization has implemented to protect employees from exposure to hazardous chemicals should also be covered during HAZCOM training.

Finally, OSHA requires organizations to train employees in the details of their hazard communication program. Training should cover the explanation of chemical labels, the workplace’s labeling system, safety data sheet (SDS), and the how employees can obtain and use  appropriate hazard information.

An OSHA inspector and two factory workers looking at a clipboard

What happens if you don't comply with HAZCOM standards?

Any organizations found to be noncompliant with HAZCOM Standards will face severe fines for endangering their employees. OSHA categorizes failure to abide by HAZCOM Standards as a “willful” violation, which as of 2018 can result in a fine of up to $129,336 per violation, with this number to be adjusted for inflation each year. Violations can range from improper posting of safety data sheets to inadequate employee training in hazard communication.

The most efficient way to ensure HAZCOM Standards are being followed is to have a system that compiles all the necessary training data to be reviewed and tracked. Training management software is available to organizations looking to keep record of employee training, automatically remind employees when training is needed, and schedule reports on what training is overdue.

If you’re looking to ease the burden of keeping track of your employee training, consider signing up for a demo of Vector Learning Management Software.


Want to Know More?

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