The Occupational Safety & Health Administration’s (OSHA) Hazard Communication Standard requires specific actions by employers with hazardous chemicals in their workplace. Employers must have a written hazard communication program, label all containers, provide MSDS--material safety data sheets--to employees and have an effective training program for employees who could be exposed to hazardous materials. OSHA has hazard communication standards for general industry, and industry-specific hazard communication requirements.
General Industry Hazard Communication Standard 1910.1200
In the general industry hazard communication standard, OSHA defines health hazards as carcinogens, corrosives, highly toxic substances and materials, irritants, sensitizers, toxic chemicals and chemicals that target specific organs. OSHA requires employers that have materials that cause health hazards to evaluate and communicate the hazards to employees through a comprehensive hazard communication program that must include container labeling, warnings, material safety data sheets and training for employees. The hazard communication program must be developed, implemented and maintained in the workplaces and must be presented upon request during inspections and investigations. The general industry hazard communication standard is referenced in the longshoring and construction regulations; those two industries do not have specific distinct hazard communication standards.
Shipyard Hazard Communication Standard 1915.1200
Shipyard employers are subject to OSHA’s hazard communication requirements for shipyards, which include all the general industry hazard communication requirements plus additional requirements specific to the shipyard industry. OSHA requires hazard communications of general working conditions and situations common to shipyard employment including confined and enclosed spaces and other dangerous atmospheres, surface preparation of large boat and ship sides and floors, welding, cutting and heating, scaffolds, ladders and other types of working surfaces, gear, tools and equipment, ships’ machinery and systems, portable vessels and drums and electrical machinery. Additionally, a long list of toxic and hazardous substances in common use in the shipyard industry must also be covered, including asbestos, benzidine, vinyl chloride and formaldehyde. Each of these areas must be included in the written hazard communication program with appropriate labeling, training and documentation.
Marine Terminal Hazard Communication Standard 1917.28
Marine terminal employers are subject to OSHA’s Hazard Communication requirements for marine terminals, which include all the general industry hazard communication requirements with additional requirements specific to the marine terminal industry. Those situations include hazard communication requirements in trade secret and information source situations where employers may be at a competitive disadvantage documenting certain safety hazards, retention of DOT labeling and emergency action plans outlining escape routes and procedures and rescue duties. Hazard communication programs in marine terminals must cover other industry-specific areas such as cargo handling gear and equipment, personal protection for face, head, foot and respiratory safety, terminal facility safety during work in such areas as elevators and platforms, stairways, docks and river banks.