Writing out a hazcom plan to protect employees
Answered by Shane Austin, CSP, director of safety and risk management, PureSafety, Franklin, TN.
Few safety professionals will be surprised to hear that the hazard communication standard is one of the top five most violated regulations every year. In 2009, OSHA reported that it cited more than 6,300 hazcom violations. One reason is that hazcom is so broad in scope and applies to practically every work environment.
The standard covers five major areas:
- Hazard determination
- Developing a written program
- Having Material Safety Data Sheets on hand
With a written program implemented, you will find it much easier to acquire MSDSs and appropriately label chemicals. The next hurdle is managing training, which accounts for one-quarter of all hazcom violations. Most organizations have good intentions, but there are real challenges to making sure that consistent, annual training is completed by all employees. Most companies still heavily rely on a manual approach, requiring supervisors and safety committees to invest large amounts of time and resources to train and track everyone. However, a growing number of companies have implemented Web-based training programs, leveraging technology to more efficiently and effectively meet training delivery, tracking, and reporting needs. Web-based training can help meet another training challenge: verifying that employees actually understand the training topic through testing and surveying. Testing and surveying also help gauge the impact of training, so you can adjust as needed.
Starting with an up-to-date written program and providing clear training documentation will go a long way toward providing your company a recipe for success in meeting hazcom compliance – and, more important, in preventing incidents and injuries.