What is the HazCom standard?

HazCom is short for Hazardous Communication Standard and is a set of standards that are used to ensure that employees are aware of the dangers associated with chemicals being used in a facility. It was originally developed by OSHA as a way to make sure that employers weren’t hiding the types of dangers that are present in the workplace. Having this type of information readily available also provides the incentive to make sure all possible safety steps are taken. This can include providing personal protection equipment, training, proper containers, and much more.

Parts of the HazCom Standard

HazCom covers a number of different things that employees and employers need to be aware of. One of the most recognized parts of HazCom, for example, is the pictograms that are used. These hazard pictograms are used to quickly show people in the area what type of danger is associated with a particular chemical -- fire hazards, oxidation, explosions, health risks, and more.

There are also HazCom labels that are used on containers, machines, trucks, and other areas where chemicals are located. These labels will alert people in the area to the fact that there is a hazard present as well as how to respond in many situations. With both the labels and the pictograms the goal is to make sure information is able to be conveyed to employees, contractors, maintenance professionals, emergency responders, and others quickly and clearly.

The last key aspect of the HazCom standard is the safety data sheets (SDS). These are detailed sheets of information about each chemical that is used in a facility. All employees should know where these safety data sheets are located in the facility. Since they are much more detailed they will typically be kept in a central location rather than right in the same area as the chemical itself. The SDS’s are also used by emergency responders in the event of a spill or other accident.

HazCom & GHS

Safety managers will often notice that HazCom and the Globally Harmonized System have a lot in common. Because of this, it typically makes sense to teach employees and others both of these programs at the same time. In most situations, the GHS concepts can be taught as a part of the HazCom system that is being implemented.


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