Hazard Communication for Unit Administrators
University of Idaho employees are covered under the worker protection requirements of the Idaho Division of Building Safety (DBS) Hazard Communication Program. This standard requires that employers provide their employees with information on the hazards of the chemicals used in their work areas and ensure the employees understand the information.
In 2012, the United States adopted a United Nations standard pertaining to labeling of chemical containers, classification of chemical hazards, and the distribution of the information in a standardized manner, known as the Globally Harmonized System (GHS). Included in this change are new pictograms that indicate the hazard(s) of a chemical, a new format for Safety Data Sheets (SDSs, formerly called Material Safety Data Sheets or MSDSs), and a simplification of the signal words used in labeling. Additional information about these new requirements can be found in the Resources section below.
The program applies to all university employees who may handle or be exposed to hazardous chemicals except for the following exempt or conditionally-exempt situations.
- Office use of any consumer product that is used for its intended purpose, provided it is used in a manner consistent with reasonable consumer use. For example, office use of products such as printer toner, glass cleaner, disinfectants and furniture polish, etc., is exempt as long as the frequency and duration of use is comparable to home use. An employee that uses glass cleaner all day long every day would not be exempt from this program.
- Warehouse and shipping/receiving operations where employees only handle chemicals in sealed containers, which are not opened under normal conditions of use by these employees, are conditionally exempt. They must be provided with the information necessary to protect them in the event of a spill or a leaking hazardous chemical container.
Additionally, certain substances are exempt from this program. Please refer to the Hazard Communication Written Program for a list of specific exemptions.
The Hazard Communication Program is simple in concept: employees have the right to know and understand the chemical hazards they may be exposed to in the workplace. To accomplish this goal, the program has some basic requirements.
- A written plan, specific to each work area, must be available to employees.
- A list of hazardous chemicals in the specific work area must be maintained.
- Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) for these chemicals must be readily available to employees.
- All chemical containers must be properly labeled.
- All employees must complete training at the time of initial hire and at any time a new hazard is introduced into the workplace.
In addition to ensuring supervisors are completing the requirements outlined in the Major Program Components question above, unit administrators are responsible for:
- ensuring supervisors maintain documentation, including SOPs, employee training, etc.;
- adequately informing any non-university personnel (such as contractors) that may share the same work area, of any hazardous substances to which the contractor's employees may be exposed while performing their work;
- correcting any deficiencies that Environmental Health and Safety or the Idaho Division of Building Safety may observe during inspections; and
- periodically reviewing the program implementation within the unit to ensure compliance with program requirements.
- Informational Guides
- Hazard Communication - A Guide for Supervisors and Employees (EHS brochure)
- Hazard Communication Program Definitions (Appendix A from Written Plan Template)
- NetLearning@uidaho training courses:
- Hazard Communication - the New GHS Standards (HC12) 60-minute online course
- Hazard Communication for Supervisors 30-minute online course
- Program Templates
- Hazard Communication with GHS
- Hazard Communication Guide for Supervisors
For more information
Hazardous Materials Specialist