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Hazard Communication Program


Hazard Communication or “Workers’ Right To Know” Act WAC 296-901 sets forth requirements regarding information and training on hazardous chemicals used in the workplace. This regulation is intended to ensure that the hazards of all chemicals produced or imported are classified, and that information concerning the classified hazards is transmitted to employers and employees. The requirements of the regulation state that the program must be consistent with the provisions in the United Nations Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of Classification and Labeling chemicals.

Employees have both a need and a right to know the hazards and identities of the chemicals they are exposed to when working. They also need to know what protective measures are available to prevent adverse effects from occurring.

State and federal regulations help employers provide safer workplaces for their employees. When employers have information about the chemicals being used, they can take steps to reduce exposures, substitute less hazardous material, and establish proper work practices. These efforts help to prevent the occurrence of work-related illnesses and injuries caused by chemicals.

A Hazard Communication program will be implemented for all departments. The written program will include standard operating procedures regarding chemical labeling and other forms of warning, safety data sheets (SDS) and employee training. The program must be followed, as closely as possible, not only to comply with regulations, but to communicate information concerning hazards and appropriate protective measures to employees.

Whitman College Policy

To ensure information regarding the dangers of all hazardous chemicals used by Whitman College are known by all affected employees. The following hazardous information program has been established:

All divisions of the College will participate in the Hazard Communication Program. The written program is available for review by employees. This policy meets the requirements of 29 CFR 1910.1200, and WAC 296.901 and will follow the more stringent regulations where applicable.

Container Labeling

Department supervisors shall verify all containers in their department/workplace are clearly labeled. Each label must have the following information provided by the manufacturer:

  • Product identifier
  • Signal word
  •  Hazard statement(s)
  • Pictogram(s)
  • Precautionary statement
  • Name, address and phone number of the manufacturer or responsible party

Container labels must be written in English. Supervisors may choose to provide the information in a second language, however the primary label must be in English. Any chemicals received with no labeling shall be rejected and returned to the shipper. Containers bearing defaced labels shall be properly marked before use. Supervisors may contact Environmental Health and Safety for guidance.

Materials may be transferred from original containers (primary container) into “secondary contaiers” (e.g. spray bottles) for use in the workplace. Secondary containers must bear all hazard warnings and information listed on the primary container. Department supervisors must ensure proper labeling of secondary containers. Supervisors may contact Environmental Health and Safety for assistance.

Safety Data Sheets (SDS)

Whitman College must have a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for each hazardous chemical used on campus. Supervisors are responsible for monitoring their employees’ compliance with the SDS program. They shall ensure procedures are in place to obtain any necessary SDSs and review incoming SDSs for new or significant health and safety information. They shall ensure new and relevant information is disseminated to their employees.

SDSs for all hazardous chemicals on campus are accessible at all times and from any network connected device through the College’s MSDSonline subscription. In the event of network outage, employees should not use hazardous chemicals until access is restored. Upon receipt, supervisors shall upload current copies of the SDS’s utilized by their department.

Employee Information and Training 

Whitman College is required to provide effective information and training to our employees regarding hazardous chemicals in the workplace.  Training is required at the time of initial assignment and when a new chemical hazard is introduced into the work area.  Information and training may be designed to cover categories of hazards or specific chemicals.  If training is chemical specific, the SDSs must be used for the training. 

Employees must be informed of the following:

  • The requirements of the regulations for hazard communication
  • Any operations in their work area where hazardous chemicals are present and
  • The location and availability of the written hazard communication program, including the location of the hazardous chemical inventory and safety data sheets. 

Additionally, employee training must include:

  • Methods and observations that may be used to detect the presence or release of a hazardous chemical in the workplace (such as monitoring conducted by the College, continuous monitoring devices, visual appearance or odor of chemicals being released, etc.)
  • The physical, health, simple asphyxiation, combustible dust, and pyrophoric gas hazards, as well as hazards not otherwise classified, of the chemicals in the work area.
  • The measures employees can take to protect themselves including safe work practices, emergency procedures and personal protective equipment to be used
  • The details of the hazard communication program including the labeling system used, the safety data sheet, and how the employees can use the appropriate information

Hazardous Non-Routine Tasks

Periodically, employees are required to perform hazardous non-routine tasks. Prior to starting work on such projects, each affected employee shall be informed of the hazardous chemicals they may encounter during the activity. This information shall include known chemical and physical hazards, protective and safety measures the employee must use, such as ventilation, respirators, personal protective equipment, the buddy system, and emergency procedures.

List of Hazardous Chemicals

A complete list of hazardous chemicals used at Whitman College may be found at MSDSonline.

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