Everything You Need to Know About Hazard Communication Training
Workplace Safety

When you’re running a business, one of your primary responsibilities is ensuring the safety of your employees. Whether you’re working with chemicals that could be dangerous, you have heavy equipment, or you simply have standard manufacturing processes, a lack of safety protocols could lead to injuries or even death. Your company must have a clear set of hazard communication protocols in place. 

But how do you go about creating hazard communication protocols for your company? Read on to discover what steps you need to take to keep your employees safer than ever in the new year.

Learn the Standard

When you’re getting ready to set up hazard communication protocols, the first thing you need to do is learn industry standards for yourself. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides these protocols for employers to review. You can find them in paragraphs e, f, g, and h of the OSHA hazard communication webpage.

Sit down with your leadership team and review all the standards OSHA provides for handling chemicals and other such dangers in the workplace. Determine which ones will apply to your business, and consider condensing these into a separate document your team can keep on hand. These will form the basis of your hazard communication protocols.

Identify Responsible Staff

Once you’ve gotten to know the standards a little better, you’ll need to identify a few staff members responsible for enforcing these protocols. Even if you have a designated safety officer, it’s a good idea to have a few sets of eyes checking your work. And while your employees will be trained to follow these standards, you need to be sure they’re being followed.

Your management and safety teams should identify a few individuals who can be responsible for various parts of the hazard management plan. You might have one person responsible for training new employees, another in charge of checking protocols on the production floor, and another tasked with checking OSHA’s standards for periodic updates, for instance. Decide who will fulfill these roles and ensure they understand them completely.

Write It Down

Now that you have your safety protocol officers, it will be time to start writing down your hazard communication plan. Having a written protocol does a few things; for one, it makes sure everyone is on the same page about what’s expected. It also gives employees a guide to look back at when they need a refresher or are concerned a breach might be occurring.

Make sure to address all the information from the relevant paragraphs in the OSHA standards in your plan. You should be specific about how your company will handle these concerns and list the people in charge of various steps in your program. You’ll also need to list all the hazardous materials, including chemicals, that you know you’ll be keeping in the workplace.

Label Containers 

A critical part of your hazard communication protocol needs to be maintaining clear labels for all your hazardous material containers. For one thing, you should always clearly label what is in each of these containers, never reusing pre-labeled containers or switching which substance is in these. These labels should include a variety of information about the chemical inside.

Your labels should, of course, include the product identifier and should include the “Danger” or “Warning” signal words, as appropriate. They should also include any pictograms, hazard statements, or precautionary statements that may apply to the substance inside. And, finally, these labels should include the name, address, and phone number of the person or party responsible for securing this substance. 

Keep Safety Data Sheets

Another huge part of your hazard communication protocol should be safety data sheets for any equipment, substances, or processes in your production that could be hazardous. For instance, your safety data sheets for hazardous equipment may include information about who can operate it and what safety measures they need to follow when doing so. Dangerous chemical safety data sheets should discuss the hazards associated with using them and how to safely do so. 

You’ll need to decide the best place to store your safety data sheets, keeping in mind that you may want to keep several copies around. You might want to have these sheets next to, in, or on any dangerous equipment you work with, as well as stored in your office. Employees should be able to easily access these safety data sheets at any time they may need to. 

Train Employees

Training is perhaps the most crucial element of your hazard communication protocols. Each and every employee must be trained in how to safely interact with any hazardous substances, equipment, or processes they might encounter during their daily work. This training may also include refresher courses or recertification for especially dangerous materials. 

Decide what training employees will receive during their onboarding and how you’ll evaluate their level of comprehension. You should also decide how areas containing hazards employees haven’t been trained on will be separated. This may include different ID badge permissions or simple site layout divisions. 

Reassess and Revise

In truth, your company will never really be done creating hazard communication protocols. We learn more each day about the best way to manage hazardous materials and processes, and your company may find ways that work better for you. Your hazard communication protocols should always be a work in progress.

Set up periodic times to reassess and revise your protocols. Talk to your employees, review any workplace injuries that have occurred, and take a look at any changes OSHA may have made to their standards in the intervening time. Using these factors, decide what is and isn’t working and update your protocols as needed. 

Create Better Hazard Communication Protocols 

Strong hazard communication protocols keep your employees safe and you protected from liability lawsuits. Make sure you appoint specific people to oversee each portion of your safety plan, and always keep things clearly labeled. Create and display safety data sheets, train your employees, and be sure to keep your protocols up to date.

KHA Online-SDS helps you manage your safety data sheets so your employees have ready access to critical safety information. Contact us today and start reducing risk, increasing workplace safety, assuring regulatory compliance, and saving time.