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Complete Overview of the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard

The OSHA Hazard Communication Standard applies to all organizations that use hazardous chemicals. It forms an important part of OSHA compliance and is necessary for preventing chemical-related incidents and accidents in the workplace.

Having this measure in place improves safety for organizations that handle hazardous chemicals. This is especially important seeing as chemicals are one of the leading causes of incidents in the workplace.

Follow this guide for everything you need to know about the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard. Below, we explain how to implement it and why it is so important.

What is OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard (HAZCOM)?

The OSHA Hazard Communication Standard is a health and safety requirement for employers in the United States. It stipulates that all information for hazardous or toxic substances used in the workplace must be clearly visible. Workers must be able to access and understand this information.

Chemical substances can be a major cause of workplace incidents. The hazard communication standard aims to improve chemical safety in the workplace.

Any hazardous chemicals need to have labels and safety data sheets that employees can access. Employees that handle these chemicals are also required to undergo proper training programs. This is to help mitigate risk and keep the workplace safe. 

HAZCOM makes chemical substance information easily accessible and also provides relevant training to know the dangers of these chemicals and how to work with them.

Manufacturers and importers of chemical products have always had to provide safety labels and safety data sheets on their products. But, the system was never standardized.

Now, the new OSHA Hazard Communication Standard uses a new globalized standardization. The new Globally Harmonized System (GHS) has international recognition. This makes it easier and more consistent to identify hazards and provide the necessary precautions and safety guidelines. 

Doing this improves workplace safety and keeps workplaces compliant with OSHA standards.

OSHA Hazard Communication Standard Requirements

There are five main areas that the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard covers. Workers need to consider each area whenever they use harmful substances in the workplace.

Hazard Classification

All chemical hazards need to be properly classified in the correct areas. HAZCOM has a clear system of criteria for classifying different health and physical hazards. The system also applies to different chemical mixtures. This includes hazard categories and classes.


Every hazardous chemical needs to be clearly labeled in line with the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard. The manufacturer or importer needs to provide the chemical’s label. This label must display each hazard class and category needs through a signal word, pictogram, and hazard statement.

All chemicals use harmonized labels so that each hazard follows the same labeling system. This makes them easy to recognize. Each label also needs to include clearly visible precautionary statements.

Safety Data Sheets (SDS)

All hazardous chemicals used in the workplace need to have a material safety data sheet. These sheets must be available to all employees. The data sheets explain the risks of the chemicals and show how to use them safely.

OSHA has a very specific 16-section format that these data sheets need to follow. It is important to keep data sheets in line with regulations.

This format includes the occupational safety and health risks associated with the chemical. It also covers spill handling procedures and instructions for the safe use of the chemical. Basically, it provides everything an employee needs to know about each chemical so that they can handle them correctly.

Information and Training

Providing all the information about chemicals and making them easily accessible is only the first step. The second step is offering proper training and education on these chemicals.

This includes training workers to understand the different elements of the labels and the safety data sheets. After all, safety sheets are pointless if they’re not properly understood.

Training should ensure that everyone understands the hazards involved with each chemical. Each new employee will need training on the correct process of handling chemicals in the workplace.

Written Hazard Communication Program

All employers should create and implement a written hazard communication program. This must be readily available to all employees. The program should include how the employer will adhere to the labeling, SDS, and training requirements of HAZCOM.

This communication program needs to provide a list of every hazardous chemical present. In addition, it must include the different methods used to inform employees of the hazards involved with these chemicals.

The Importance of HAZCOM

The OSHA Hazard Communication Standard is necessary for all workplaces that use hazardous chemicals. Here are some of the reasons why HAZCOM is so important to implement and maintain.

Increase Workplace Safety

The reason why HAZCOM exists is to reduce chemical-related workplace incidents and accidents. This is vital for creating a safer workplace.

Exposure to harmful chemicals is one of the leading causes of injuries in the workplace. As such, this is an area that needs to be carefully monitored and regulated. With the proper measures and information in place, organizations can do better to maintain a safe and responsible work environment.

By sticking to the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard, workers can easily identify harmful chemicals. They will also understand the implications and risks involved in working with them. The standard trains workers to deal with the chemicals, store them safely, and attend to any spills in the correct manner.

This reduces the risk of accidental exposure, thus improving safety and minimizing workplace incidents. 

Maintain OSHA Compliance

HAZCOM isn’t only there to help workplaces achieve certain safety levels – it’s also a legal requirement. Any workplace that makes use of dangerous chemicals needs to be OSHA compliant.

If an OSHA inspection takes place and proper HAZCOM standards don’t exist, it can result in a serious fine. OSHA fines can be damaging, but non-compliance can also result in other worker safety and legal issues.

You never know when an OSHA inspection may take place. As such, keeping up to standard at all times is essential.

An Internationally Recognized Safety Standard

The new HAZCOM standard is internationally recognized. This is thanks to a standardized labeling and classification system. Global consistency makes it a lot easier for workers to identify and understand different chemicals.

Maintaining the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard gives workplaces the most easily recognizable system for chemical safety. 

Keeps Workers Updated

Introducing new chemical hazards to the workplace means workers will need extra training. This means workers will always be aware of different types of chemicals hazards. They will also understand how to avoid harmful exposures.

HAZCOM is not only about identifying hazards and making them visible. It’s also about providing ongoing training to keep a high level of safety in the workplace.

Covers all Chemical Processes

The OSHA Hazard Communication Standard is there to ensure chemical hazards in the workplace are properly communicated and managed. This safety standard ensures that workers responsibly deal with all identified chemicals.

This includes:

  • Storing the chemicals
  • Handling the chemicals
  • Transporting the chemicals
  • Wearing the correct protection when working with the chemicals

In case of an accident or spill, workers will know how to deal with the situation safely.


Keeping up with OSHA compliance is vital for any business with possible hazards. If the organization involves hazardous chemicals, then HAZCOM standards need to be in place.

This safety standard keeps workplaces safe, helps organizations to avoid chemical-related incidents, and maintains OSHA compliance.

The OSHA Hazard Communication Standard’s basic requirements are not particularly difficult to put in place. They are simple to adhere to and will make a major difference to workplace safety and compliance.