Cintas Cleans Up the Top Hazard Communication Misconceptions
Debunking myths improves chemical safety in the workplace
CINCINNATI -- January 29, 2014
Millions of employees are exposed to hazardous chemicals each year, and
without the proper precautions in place and adequate training, severe injuries
or death can occur. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
recently revised its Hazard Communication standard to adopt the Globally
Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). To help
organizations navigate HazCom requirements, Cintas Corporation (NASDAQ: CTAS),
a leader in first-aid and safety personal protective products (PPE), today
debunked six popular HazCom/GHS myths.
“With the HazCom standard’s GHS training requirement now in effect and the New
Year in full swing, many organizations are scrambling to train workers and
determine what requirements they will face next, while others still are
unclear if GHS applies to their business,” said Tom Lally, Director of
Training and Compliance, Cintas. “By debunking myths associated with HazCom
and GHS, we can make chemical safety compliance much clearer before the
Occupational Safety and Health Administration comes knocking for an
1. Only people using chemicals need to undergo training.
Many organizations are still struggling to understand their responsibilities
with regard to HazCom training. Training is required for any employee who will
be exposed or potentially exposed to chemicals under normal workplace
conditions. People who are only “occasionally” in the vicinity of chemicals
are exempt from the rule. For instance, if employees periodically use a
chemical to clean the kitchen sink, they will not need to complete training.
However, if the job requires multiple sinks to be cleaned, or if a CEO
conducts plant tours where chemicals are present, this is considered routine
exposure and training is required. Even shippers or handlers who are sending
hazardous chemicals to businesses that will use the materials must undergo
training. If it’s unclear whether employees need to be educated about
hazardous chemicals, organizations should conduct training to be safe.
2. Temporary workers don’t need to be trained.
On the contrary, OSHA is making a big push to ensure organizations train
temporary employees properly. Oftentimes employers solely focus on educating
full-time employees or assume that temp agencies have trained outside
contractors. However, there are certain details that temp agencies can’t
prepare these workers for, such as the location of Safety Data Sheets (SDS).
Organizations should work closely with the temp agency to make sure the
necessary training occurs to guarantee safety.
3. HazCom violations won’t break the bank.
OSHA bases violations on the seriousness of the offense, ranging from general
to serious/willful. The average fee per violation will likely be $900-1100,
although OSHA is considering increasing the fees to encourage better
compliance. If a chemical-related injury or death occurs, an organization will
face severe fines and brand perception issues if employees were not properly
trained. However, organizations should view compliance as a way to protect
workers, not simply a method for avoiding fines.
4. HazCom violations occur infrequently.
HazCom violations are actually frequently included in OSHA’s top 10 violations
each year. Preliminary estimates for 2013 ranked HazCom violations second with
6,156 incidents and once all data is collected, this number is expected to
rise due to noncompliance with GHS guidelines. Workplaces are often cited
because of 1) a lack of a written plan 2) inadequate employee training and 3)
unavailability or inaccessibility of SDS sheets. All impacted employees should
be properly trained and have direct access to SDSs.
5. Current chemicals must be disposed of because they lack the proper labels.
Although the training deadline has passed, the deadline for applying new
chemical labels will not arrive until June 2015. This gives organizations time
to use up current chemicals and reorder new inventory. These new shipments
will arrive in containers with the revised labels. Employers should wait for
the chemical manufacturer or distributor to provide the new labels rather than
labeling containers themselves. This is a complicated process and doing it
incorrectly can create financial and safety liabilities.
6. All HazCom/GHS training is the same.
Not all training is created equal; employers must ensure they provide
effective education. It’s best to offer a blended approach that relies on DVD,
online and instructor-led courses in multiple languages. Training should be
continuous, rather than a one-time occurrence. Organizations should also
partner with a company that can make tracking compliance easy.
“Many organizations may struggle to find time to devote to GHS compliance or
to understand if the regulation applies to them, but it’s essential that they
create a plan to get all workers trained and utilize outside experts when they
feel overwhelmed by OSHA’s requirements,” said Robert A. Ernst, Editor,
Workplace Safety, of J.J. Keller.
For more information about HazCom/GHS training from Cintas, please
About Cintas Corporation:
Headquartered in Cincinnati, Cintas Corporation provides highly specialized
services to businesses of all types primarily throughout North America. Cintas
designs, manufactures and implements corporate identity uniform programs, and
provides entrance mats, restroom cleaning and supplies, tile and carpet
cleaning, promotional products, first aid, safety, fire protection products
and services and document management services for more than 1 million
businesses. Cintas is a publicly held company traded over the Nasdaq Global
Select Market under the symbol CTAS and is a component of the Standard &
Poor’s 500 Index.
Mulberry Marketing Communications
Jess Messenger, 312-664-1532
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