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Hazardous Materials

The Hazard Communication Standard requires that Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) be made available at the workplace for each and every chemical or hazardous product that an employee may come in contact with, and the ingredients of which may cause physical or health hazards. MSDS are prepared and supplied by the product’s manufacturer and generally summarize the ingredients, the hazards to humans, and safe handling techniques when using the product. At the worksite, containers holding the product must have warning labels and/or other written signs describing the product’s hazards.

Employers are also required to instruct employees on how to read the MSDS and make proper use of the information they contain. Employees must be trained on proper use of the hazardous product, safe handling methods, containment of the product (against leaks, spills, fumes, or spreads), personal protective gear, and emergency procedures.

Most employers must submit written information regarding their hazard communication programs, how they intend to disseminate information and conduct training, and what particular products or hazardous materials are at their workplace. MSDS must always be given to union officials or employees’ physicians when requested.

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