Vital Compliance Points for Your Hazard Communication Program
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is responsible for checking and punishing health and safety violations from different workplaces across the UK. Hazard communication standards (HazCom) violation is among the top violations recorded. As long as your workforce may be exposed to hazardous materials and chemicals, it’s your responsibility to ensure proper HazCom and notify your workers about these hazards.
We’ve prepared a list of four effective compliance points to help you prevent your workplace from becoming the next statistic.
- Ensure You Have a Full List of Hazardous Substances
You need to make a list of all the hazardous materials and chemicals used in your business and prepare a safety data sheet (SDS) for each substance. The SDS contains a product identifier that you can use when preparing the list as part of your written HazCom program. In case any SDS is missing, ensure to get it from the distributor, manufacturer, or any other valid source. This list is crucial to serving as an inventory of every chemical and material for which an SDS is required. Distributors, manufacturers, and importers are required to provide an SDS to their clients at the time of the first shipment of all hazardous substances. You won’t be liable for ensuring the accuracy of the SDS as long as you got it from the distributor, manufacturer, or the importer without obvious inaccuracies. Report any missing or inaccurate information on an SDS to the distributor or manufacturer as soon as possible and wait for the update before using the substance.
- Ensure you have an updated written HazCom program
The program should contain SDSs, labelling, and safety training. The written HazCom program acts as a blueprint for communicating hazards and is normally the first thing HSE compliance officers will request to see. The document doesn’t have to be long but should clearly show all the necessary details, outlining all the parts you intend to implement in the program. Ensure the program is also made available to all workers so that they are aware of all the labels and any warnings in the SDSs, the workplace. They should also be informed on how the training requirements are to be met.
- Ensure proper labelling and storage of all containers with hazardous substances
The labels should clearly show the product identity and warnings of usage. The labels should remain firmly attached to the container and legible. Ensure also that all the employees are able to read and understand the label to know the actions to take in case of exposure and steps to take to avoid exposure in the first place. For companies manufacturing or importing hazardous chemicals, it’s required that they create standardized labels for different chemicals to include harmonized signal words, pictograms, and hazard statements for each hazard category. The storage of hazardous substances is also very crucial. You should store the products in a properly ventilated area as advised by the manufacturer and distributor. Ensure to include proper access equipment such as safety ladders in the area to safely store and remove chemicals in the storage compartments.
- Develop an efficient employee training program
You should consider developing an employee training program to help employees understand what each SDS mean and how to use and obtain one, location of physical and health hazards in the workplace, identification of where to find the written HazCom program and the respective details, and whom to conduct and the process to follow in case of an emergency.