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Safety Training Program Highlights

Regulatory Compliance » Right to Know Healthcare Facilities
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About Right-To-Know for Healthcare Facilities


Early in 1984, OSHA put in place the Federal Hazard Communication Standard that has come to be known as the "Right-To-Know" law. The law originally predominately affected chemical manufacturing facilities, as well as most "manufacturers" that used "potentially hazardous chemicals".

However, in October of 1985, the courts decided that these regulations should apply to all facilities.

Also, almost 40 states have passed their own "Right-To-Know" laws.

State legislation has built on the Federal OSHA legislation, and in most cases, the state laws are much more rigorous and require much quicker action than OSHA's regulations.

The definition of "potentially hazardous chemicals" varies in all these laws.

Some provide a specific chemical list. Others furnish only a definition of what may be hazardous, leaving it up to the manufacturers and users to determine which chemicals fit into the category.

However, in all cases the definitions often extend to the things such as the "toner" used in copiers, cleaning fluids, lubricants and many other common chemicals.

The requirements in all laws and regulations concerning "Right-To-Know" include three major areas:
  • Locating, Inventorying, and Tracking Potentially Hazardous Chemicals
    • Information about what chemicals are used, where they are stored and how much is used, all fall into this category.
  • Identifying, Labeling and Providing Information About Potentially Hazardous Chemicals
    • All chemicals (and areas where chemicals are used) within a facility must be labeled.
    • Labels must show what Health, Fire, and Reactive hazards are associated with each chemical, as well as what Protective Equipment must be used to handle the chemical.
    • In addition, definitive information about the chemical must be provided to employees, based on the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS's), provided by manufacturers (these sheets provide detailed information about the specific chemical).
  • Training/Educating Employees
    • Employees must be educated about a number of things including:
      • Employees' rights under the legislation.
      • What hazardous chemicals are used by the facility (especially those the employee might come in contact with).
      • How the chemicals will be labeled and the meanings incorporated into the labeling system.
      • The information available, via MSDSs and other sources, about each chemical.
      • The general uses, characteristics, protective clothing, accident procedures, etc. associated with the major groups or types of chemicals.

These training/education programs must be given periodically to all employees who may be exposed to potentially hazardous chemicals.

Also, all new employees or employees who are transferred from one department or area to another must go through these programs before they go to work.


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Right to Know Healthcare Facilities
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