Chemical Hazard Communication


Chemical exposure may cause or contribute to many serious health effects such as heart ailments, kidney and lung damage, sterility, cancer, burns, and rashes. Some chemicals may also be safety hazards and have the potential to cause fires, explosions and/or other serious accidents. To ensure that employees know about the hazards of chemicals and how to protect themselves, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued the Hazard Communication Standard (29 CFR 1910.1200), also known as "The Right to Know" or "The Need to Know" standard.

Under OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard, chemical manufacturers and importers are required to evaluate and classify the hazards of each chemical they produce or import and communicate this hazard information to the user through labels and material safety data sheets (MSDSs) or safety data sheets (SDSs). The University is required to:

  • Identify and list the hazardous chemicals in the workplace;
  • Ensure that all containers of hazardous chemicals are labeled and that (M)SDSs are obtained for each chemical;
  • Communicate hazard information to employees through labels, (M)SDSs and formal training programs, and
  • Provide an up-to-date written Hazard Communication Program.

The University of Arizona's Hazard Communication Program

Risk Management Services has developed the University of Arizona's Hazard Communication Program (PDF format) and a companion training program.  They provide guidance for reducing chemically-related illnesses and injuries at work and achieving compliance with OSHA's Hazard Communication standard. The Program applies to all non-laboratory work environments where hazardous chemicals are used.

Employees who work with hazardous chemicals in laboratories are governed by a different OSHA standard written specifically for laboratory workers (29 CFR 1910.1450, Occupational Exposures to Hazardous Chemicals in Laboratories). University compliance with this standard is managed by the Research Laboratory & Safety Services. Laboratory workers are advised to consult with ORCBS for training and compliance assistance.