Overview: Part of encouraging safety in the workplace is hazard communication. Hazard communication (HazCom) refers to the employer's obligation to tell employees about the hazardous substances used in the workplace, including information regarding correct handling and methods of containment, among others.
The OSH Act mandates hazard communication and right to know; in addition, many other agencies have their own federal regulations on hazard communication requirements.
States also may have their own right to know laws that stipulate an employee has the right to know when he or she has been exposed to a toxic chemical. These laws mandate what chemical exposure levels must be reported and how they must be reported.
Trends: OSHA's HazCom Standard was updated to comply with the United Nations' Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). The revised standard had to be fully implemented by June 1, 2016..
Author: Melissa Gonzalez Boyce, JD, Legal Editor
Updated to reflect the Protection from Workplace Harassment and Violence Act, effective November 1, 2019.
Updated to reflect forthcoming Miami Beach ordinance relating to safety protections for hotel and hostel employees.
Updated to reflect expanded list of debilitating medical conditions under medical marijuana law, effective August 9, 2019.
Updated to reflect amendments relating to the use of wireless telecommunications devices while driving, effective July 24, 2019.
Updated to reflect the prohibition of the use of handheld wireless communications devices while driving, effective July 1, 2018.
Updated to reflect the prohibition of the use of a hand-held wireless device. effective June 1, 2018.
Updated to reflect an amendment relating to a driver's use of a wireless communication device while driving.
Updated to include the West Virginia Safer Workplace Act, effective July 7, 2017.
Updated to incorporate the statewide ban on handheld phone use by commercial motor vehicle drivers, effective July 1, 2016.
HR guidance on OSHA's hazard communication standard (worker right to know).