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How to Help Employees Understand a Safety Data Sheet

Author: Ashley Shaw, XpertHR Legal Editor

As required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) Hazard Communication (HazCom) Standard, an employer must have a written hazard communication program. The purpose of the program is to ensure that employees are aware of and understand any chemical hazards that may affect their work as well as how to avoid the risks and mitigate the problems should the hazard occur. This is done through the use of labels as well as safety data sheets (SDSs), which provide necessary information to the reader. It is also done through appropriate employee training that teaches the employee, among other things, how to accurately read and understand an SDS.

An employer should follow the steps below  to better ensure that all employees are able to understand a safety data sheet. Note that this advice pertains to an employer that uses, but does not manufacture, hazardous chemicals.