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Hazard Communication

This document is compliant with the new 2012 Hazard Communication Rule.


The purpose of this written program is to advise and provide guidance on the employer/employee requirements of the Hazard Communication Standard (29 CFR 1910.1200). This standard is enforced by the state of Maryland through the Access to Information About Hazardous and Toxic Substances Act. The requirements of the Act are to:

  • Provide information on workplace chemical hazards;
  • Compile a hazardous chemical list and make it readily available;
  • Use Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for safety information; formerly known as Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)
  • Use and maintain container labels
  • Provide Training
Look Up SDS

Scope and Application

This program applies to all work operations in a department where personnel may be exposed to hazardous substances under normal working conditions or during an emergency situation. Copies of the program and regulation may be obtained from the Public Health and Environmental Safety (PHES) Office, CT Building 9221 Corporate Blvd, Rockville, MD 20850; telephone, (240)567-4308. A copy of this program must be available in each department.

Under this program, employees will be informed of the contents of the Hazard Communication Standard, the hazardous properties of chemicals with which they work, safe handling procedures, and measures to take for protecting themselves and others from these chemicals. Employees will also be informed of the hazards associated with non-routine tasks.

Program Description

The Hazard Communication program includes the following elements:

Each department will keep written procedures for safe handling of chemicals. These procedures must be written for all hazardous chemicals in use. 

Here is a sample procedure for a corrosive and very strong acid:

"Sulfuric acid is a corrosive chemical, which can burn the skin and eyes. The SDS must be read before using this chemical. Always add acid to water with much stirring when diluting. You must wear chemical splash goggles, rubber gloves and chemical resistant clothing when using this chemical. This chemical must only be used in a location equipped with a safety shower and eyewash."

The department supervisor is responsible for making and maintaining a list of all hazardous chemicals and related work practices used in the facility. The College is currently using SDSPro a third party chemical inventory and sds management system. If you need access to the current system please email Environmental Safety. This chemical inventory list must identify all of the chemicals used in the department, the corresponding SDS for each chemical, and the work area(s) in which each is located. The inventory list must be updated yearly at minimum, so that it accurately reflects the chemicals in use in the department.

Each department will use SDSPro to submit their inventories to the Public Health and Environmental Safety (PHES) office. PHES will compile a master list of all chemicals in use at the College. Copies of the master list will be available upon request. In addition, a campus list of all hazardous materials is kept on file at each Public Safety Office for access by emergency response personnel.

Safety Data Sheets (SDS) provide specific information on the chemical you are using. Occupational safety regulations and local emergency planning laws require that departmental supervisors regularly update chemical inventories and SDSs. A SDS must be available to you before you work with any material that can impair your health.

SDSs must be available to all students and employees who work in the area at all shifts; this includes building services and security staff. Paper copies of SDSs must be kept in an accessible and clearly visible location by the department who uses the chemical or chemical product. The Public Health and Environmental Safety (PHES) office maintains campus-wide chemical inventories and Safety Data Sheets in a central database.

The department supervisor must approve all purchases of new chemicals for the department and then insure that pertinent safety information is supplied and understood before a hazardous material is used. If you purchase hazardous materials for your department, you must obtain the associated SDS for the substance and submit it to your supervisor before using the material. (A copy of the SDS must also be sent to the PHES Office for archiving in the College's Hazardous Materials database.)

The department supervisor will ensure that all hazardous chemicals in the department are properly labeled. Labels must list the chemical identity, appropriate hazard warnings, and the name and address of the manufacturer or vendor. Manufacturers and vendors are legally responsible for label and SDS information. Your supervisor will refer to the corresponding SDS to assist you in better understanding label information. The Public Health and Environmental Safety office will also assist you or your supervisor when requested.

If you transfer chemicals from a labeled container to a portable container that is intended only for your immediate use, no labels are required on the portable container. Storage of a chemical requires a container label with product name, hazardous components and all warnings.

When you are required to perform a hazardous non-routine task, special training will be conducted to inform you of the hazardous chemicals to which you might be exposed. Your supervisor will explain the proper precautions you must use to reduce or avoid exposure.

Everyone who works with, or is potentially exposed to, hazardous chemicals must receive initial training on the "Hazard Communication Standard" and the safe use of hazardous materials. Whenever a new hazard is introduced, additional training must be provided. Supervisors must supply training to their subordinates regarding specific hazards and the appropriate protective measures. They must be able to answer any questions from employees and they will provide regular monitoring to insure safe work practices.

Training will emphasize these items:

  1. Summary of the Standard and this written program
  2. Chemical and physical properties of hazardous materials and methods that can be used to detect the presence or release of chemicals
  3. Physical hazards of chemicals (e.g., potential for fire, explosion, etc.)
  4. Health hazards, including signs and symptoms of illness associated with exposure to chemicals
  5. Medical condition(s) aggravated by exposure to the chemical
  6. Hazard reduction or elimination methods
  7. Emergency procedures
  8. Location of SDSs and how to interpret the information
  9. Label information and sources of additional information

All related training will be documented with the employee name and date. Documentation must be kept on file in the Public Health and Environmental Safety office and Workday for review by regulatory authorities. Supervisors and Managers must request training to be conducted by Public Health and Environmental Safety staff. The Public Health and Environmental Safety office is not responsible for scheduling and room reservations for training.

Take the Online Training

Log in to Workday to access the Online Hazard Communication Training and follow the instructions listed on the link below.

Instructions on How to Access Online Hazard Communication Training and Quiz (PDF, Get Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader - Link opens in new window)

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Classifying and assessing department chemicals and use
  • Maintaining a chemical inventory and ensuring that the correct SDSs for each chemical are accounted for.
  • Ensuring staff have ready access to SDSs in the work area.
  • Reviewing the inventory and hazards of each chemical with employees.
  • Determining proper engineering and administrative controls, work practices and personal protective equipment (PPE) to implement when employees work with specific chemicals. Public Health and Environmental Safety (PHES) can provide guidance if requested.
  • Ensuring proper labeling of all chemical containers, storage cabinets and work areas as needed.
  • Providing training to employee and affected individuals in HazCom elements, including chemicals used in the area and their potential hazards and SDS.
  • Conducting job hazard analysis (JHA) and/or develop standard operating procedures (SOP) for processes and chemical use in the area that describes the hazards and safeguards.
  • Providing personal protective equipment (PPE) for employees and other individuals, where applicable.
  • Retraining employees and other individuals when new chemicals or procedures are introduced to the work area.
  • Informing contractors of chemicals and potential hazards they may encounter in their work; ensuring proper procedures are followed .
  • Informing contractors that they must provide PHES with chemical information and SDS about chemicals they are bringing onsite to complete their work.
  • Knowing what chemicals you are working with and the potential hazards; reading safety data sheets (SDSs)
  • Taking Hazard Communication training and obtaining chemical-specific training from your supervisor
  • Knowing where to find SDS binder
  • Following a standard operating procedure (SOP) and/or a job hazard analysis (JHA) developed for operations in your work area that describe hazards and safeguards
  • Following safe use practices when working with chemicals, including engineering controls, administrative controls, good work practices and use of proper personal protective equipment (PPE) as required
  • Helping you supervisor ensure all chemical containers are labeled
  • Follow manufacturer's recommendations for safe use, storage, and disposal of all hazardous products.
  • Knowing what to do if a chemical spills
  • Asking questions if you are unsure about any procedures or chemical hazards
  • Reporting any accidents or injuries immediately to your supervisor
  • Maintaining the HazCom program, auditing it annually and updating it as needed.
  • Collecting chemical Inventories from supervisors and managers
  • Providing advice on chemical assessments, developing standard operating procedures and/or job hazard analyses that describe hazards and safeguards, safe use practices when working with chemicals, and personal protective equipment selection and use
  • Providing training on basic HazCom; advising on area-specific HazCom training
  • Providing MC with chemical information and safety data sheets about chemicals they are bringing onsite to complete their work.
  • Asking about chemicals and potential hazards they may encounter in the work area where they will work or visit.
  • Following proper procedures of the work area and wearing personal protective equipment as needed.

What you can do to stay safe?

  • Always follow proper procedures when working with chemicals.
  • Always use designated controls, safe work practices and proper personal protective equipment when working with chemicals.
  • Ask if unsure about chemical's identity, hazards or procedure.
  • Report spills or accidents to supervisor.
  • Know accident and spill procedures and when to call for help.
  • Suggest corrective actions if you see potentially hazardous conditions or procedures.