Home Entrepreneurship Everything You Need to Know About HAZCOM Training

Everything You Need to Know About HAZCOM Training

by Olufisayo
HAZCOM Training

According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), more than 32 million workers are exposed to one or more hazardous chemicals at their workplace. In addition, there are already 650,000 chemical products in existence – and the number increases exponentially every year.

There used to be a time in which workers didn’t know what they were being exposed to. They didn’t even know that they were being exposed. And as far as the law was concerned, they didn’t have to know.

Thankfully, things are different today.

Today, workers have to undergo what’s known as HAZCOM training. In other words, they not only have the right to know the dangers of what they’re exposed to but they’re actually required to know. And you, as an employer, are required to tell them.

So let’s take a closer look at what HAZCOM actually is and why it’s necessary that you take it seriously.

What’s the Hazard Anyway?

If you’re planning on working in the industrial, medical, or agricultural industry, you’re going to be exposed to hazardous chemicals. If you’re going to employing people in those industries, you’ll be exposing people to those same chemicals

Here’s a list of some common substances found in workplaces:

  • Pesticides
  • Solvents
  • Petroleum products
  • Acids
  • Disinfectants
  • Paint
  • Heavy metals
  • Glues

But what’s the big deal about hazardous chemicals? What can they do to you?

A lot.

As you can see from the list above, hazardous substances come in a variety of forms. That means you can be exposed to them in a variety of ways – you can swallow them, inhale them, or have them splash into your eyes or onto your skin.

Some of the side effects of exposure are pretty damn serious, and even potentially fatal. They include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Poisoning
  • Headaches
  • Dermatitis
  • Lung, kidney, or liver damage
  • Birth Defects
  • Chemical Burns

This list could go on and on. The point is that exposure to chemical hazards is extremely dangerous and not something to be brushed off lightly.

Material Safety Data Sheets

Given that there is a wide variety of chemicals, how could you possibly know what you’re at risk of being exposed to? The side effects are no joke, you might think, but one can’t possibly be expected to learn to recognize every little dangerous substance.

Can they?


That’s why OSHA requires chemical manufacturers and importers to convey the risks of their products to employers. It’s the law. Labels on containers that hold hazardous chemicals must disclose that fact.

There’s also something called “Material Safety Data Sheets,” or MSDS.

Every chemical produced or imported has to have its own MSDS.

An MSDS is a detailed – very detailed – record of everything about that chemical. It includes the chemical’s official name, the names it’s commonly referred to as, its chemical and physical characteristics, its health effects, its exposure limits, whether or not it can cause cancer, what to do in case of an emergency involving it, and more.

The law requires that all employers receive an MSDS for each chemical they receive.

So if you need to know what chemical hazards you’re exposed to in the workplace, one way is to simply comb through the MSDS’s on file there.

So What Does HAZCOM Training Have to Do With This?

HAZCOM is an acronym. It’s short for Hazard Communication.

To undergo HAZCOM training, therefore, is to learn how to communicate about hazards – specifically, chemical hazards.

As an employer, you’re responsible for the safety of your employees. But you can’t be expected to micromanage them into safety. Rather, you need to communicate to them the seriousness of exposure to chemical hazards, how to communicate effectively about them, and how to protect themselves against them.

It’s a tall order.

Employers must also establish their own in-house training program that complements and incorporates the HAZCOM Training they received from OSHA (What is HAZCOM Training?). The actual specifics of the training will differ from job site to job site, depending on what industry it’s taking place in. But the principles are the same.

Employees must learn how to read MSDS’s and labels on containers holding chemical hazards. If applicable, they must learn how to detect chemical hazards via sensory cues. And they must all know what the risks are.

Some More About Employer Responsibility

It’s important to know what we’re talking about when we say something is a “workplace hazard.”

Chemicals are just one kind.

A workplace hazard is literally anything that has the potential to put an employee’s health or safety at risk. That anything could be chemical, physical, biological, or ergonomic.

Wet floors at the worksite are a workplace hazard, for example.

And if the job requires repetitive motions for prolonged periods, that too is a workplace hazard; if the job requires manual handling, that’s a workplace hazard.

Can you spot what all these have in common?


They’re all required to be reported to the employees by the employer. In other words, employers must disclose anything and everything that could endanger an employee in any way.

Employers must compile a list of all chemical hazards present at the workplace. This list must be reviewed and verified against all of the MSDS’s that the employer received from manufacturers and importers.

This list must be available to employees.

Final Thoughts

The world’s a dangerous place – one should always take precautions where necessary.

Don’t cut corners when it comes to HAZCOM training and the safety of your employees. Abide by OSHA’s standards. Your employees and your business will thank you for it.

And that’s all there is to it.

If you have any questions or concerns, make sure to leave them in the comments below.

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