Did you know that more than 8,700 chemicals are created or imported into the United States every year? These chemicals play a vital role in powering, cleaning and manufacturing. However, they’re also potentially dangerous.
Many are flammable, toxic and, if not handled correctly, dangerous. That’s where HazCom labels come into the picture. These labels play an important role in both the identification of chemicals and warning potential users of their dangers.
If you want to learn more about HazCom labels, then you’re in the right place. In this article, we’ll provide you with everything you need to know about them. Let’s get started!
What Are HazCom Labels?
Before we learn about HazCom labels it’s important to first know what it stands for. HazCom is short for hazard communication. It’s a set of standards that provides workers, and anyone else around certain chemicals, information about them.
This information typically includes things like the type of chemical, any hazards it presents, how to handle it, and what to do in the event of an emergency. The information contained on HazCom labels is set by OSHA.
Specifically, the regulations are set by OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard. In the past, these standards were hazy at best. They were often difficult to understand which led to a lot of accidents involving the material.
Luckily, in 2012, OSHA updated the rules by prioritizing workers’ right to know what materials they’re handling. These days, HazCom labels should provide the average reader with enough information to stay safe around the chemicals.
How Do HazCom Labels Keep Us Safe?
It’s not that hard to see how HazCom labels keep us safe. Many of the chemicals that businesses use daily are toxic and hazardous. And, it’s the responsibility of the business owners to make sure that all employees are protected from these substances.
As such, these labels help keep us safe by disclosing any harm that the substance can cause. What’s more, they also give information on how to address the situation in the event of a chemical spill or similar accident.
This includes information on how to seek medical attention. In this way, HazCom labels have the potential to save lives. As such, they should be taken as seriously as possible.
To be legally compliant all new chemicals and mixtures must undergo HazCom requirements. The first requirement is classification. This means that the substance must undergo standard laboratory testing.
This helps identify potentially dangerous chemicals and the severity of the hazard that they pose. Next, a document (known as a safety data sheet) must compile all relevant information about the substance.
Finally, user information must be compiled in the form of a label to help the people who are handling the substance. Once all three of these steps have been taken, then a substance can be cleared by OSHA for legal use.
Understanding HazCom Labels
All HazCom labels should have the same six pieces of information. First, there should be a product identifier. This is the name of the substance as it appears in the official safety data sheet.
In addition to this, there should be listed any active ingredients that might make the substance unsafe. Next, there should be a signal word. This lets the user know the threat level of the substance. “Danger” and “warning” are some common signal words. Alternatively, there might be no signal words at all if the substance is safe.
After that, there should be pictograms. These are images, surrounded by red diamonds, that convey the hazards of the substance. They might be things like a skull, or dead fish.
This helps users know that they should be careful and not dump the chemicals into the water. Accompanying these pictograms should be statements that clearly explain the meaning in more depth.
There should also be precautionary statements that help users learn how to protect themselves against the chemical. Finally, there needs to be supplier information. This is any contact info that allows someone to get in touch with the supplier in case of an emergency.
How to Make Sure Your HazCom Labels and Safety Data Sheets Are OSHA Compliant
HazCom labels go hand in hand with safety data sheets. Safety data sheets are like the long-form of HazCom labels. It includes a variety of information on the substance, from identification to specific handling conditions.
Altogether, there are sixteen different sections that each safety data sheet must address. This includes:
- Identification of the substance
- Hazard identification of the substance
- Information on the ingredients
- First-aid information
- Fire-fighting information
- Information in the event of accidental release
- Handling and storage information
- Personal protection to prevent exposure
- Information on physical and chemical properties
- Stability of the substance
- Info related to toxicology
- Info related to ecology
- How to dispose of it
- How to transport it
- How to regulate it
- Other information
Employers must regularly update both their HazCom labels and their safety data sheets to be completely up to date. So, how do they do this?
Simple: by finding an online datasheet library. If you need a recommendation, then you can’t go wrong with KHA online SDS. Their advanced search feature allows you to locate any information that you need quickly and easily.
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We hope this article helped you answer the question, What are HazCom labels? As you can, HazCom labels are a vital part of keeping both yourself and those around you safe at your workplace.
As such, you should make sure that any chemicals are properly identified with these labels. And, if you aren’t sure whether or not you can do it properly, then you should make sure to hire a competent company to do it for you.
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