Hazard Communication Program and Safety Data Sheets - NIU - Environmental Health and Safety

Environmental Health and Safety

Hazard Communication Program

The Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), also known as the “Right-to-Know” law, implemented by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to provide information to employees regarding hazardous chemicals in the workplace and the properties of these chemicals.  This information must be disseminated through a hazard communication program involving hazard classification, a written hazard communication plan, labels and other forms of warning, safety data sheets (SDS), and employee training. 

On March 26, 2012, OSHA adopted portions of the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) into the HCS with a four-year transition period.  The revised HCS provided harmonized criteria for classifying chemicals and requires specific label elements on shipped containers and mandatory 16-section standardized SDSs, formerly known as material safety data sheets (MSDS).

The HCS applies to any hazardous chemical which is known to be present in the workplace in such a manner that employees may be exposed under normal conditions of use, or in a foreseeable emergency.  The definition of a “hazardous chemical” is extremely broad, and includes any chemical which is a physical or a health hazard.  The OSHA standard has a procedure for hazard determination and any substance determined to be hazardous under this procedure is subject to the program. 

Please contact the Department of Environmental Health and Safety at 815-753-0404 for additional information or assistance with a chemical hazard evaluation.