HazCom was developed based on OSHA’s ‘Right to Know’ program, which guarantees workers have the right to know about any potentially dangerous chemicals that they are working with. OSHA continues to develop and enforce this set of safety standards for all companies in the United States. It is also important to note that OSHA makes sure that their HazCom standards remain in line with the GHS standards. In that way, the UN (which developed GHS), has some influence on how the HazCom system is regulated by OSHA.
Citations are Common
Many people are surprised to learn that violations of the HazCom standards are actually the second most commonly cited violation by OSHA. They issue fines and penalties to many companies because they fail to follow these regulations. The fines associated with these types of violations will vary in amount depending on the situation.
If OSHA believes that it was simply an oversight on the part of the company, the fines will be fairly minimal. If the company continues to have issues after an initial small penalty, they can go up significantly. When OSHA finds that a company is deliberately violating the requirements found in HazCom, the penalties can be massive. Each individual violation that is found can have penalties of over $100,000. This is clearly a major incentive for companies to remain in compliance with OSHA regulations when it comes to working with dangerous chemicals.
OSHA will often discover violations of HazCom regulations when they are doing standard inspections of a facility. Any company that has dangerous chemicals will need to make sure that they are fully in compliance when it comes to the proper HazCom labeling, HazCom training, safety data sheets, and other important aspects of these regulations.
Updates to HazCom Standards
There are occasional updates to the HazCom standards as the types of chemicals that are used changes, and more is learned about them. For example, some chemicals that are now known to potentially cause cancer will be added to the program as needing to have this warning. Companies are typically given a reasonable amount of time to update their HazCom program, but it should be done as soon as is possible to help ensure the safety of everyone working in or around a facility.
- Why is HazCom important?
- When is a HazCom program required?
- Who does HazCom apply to?
- What is a HazCom program?
- Who in the workplace must have HazCom training?
- What does the HazCom standard cover?
- What is HAZCOM training and how often is it required?
- What are HazCom labels?