Employees are exposed to hazardous chemicals in many jobs, including factory work, construction, landscaping, and pest control. Even office workers can be exposed to toxic chemicals from cleaning products or from construction in their office buildings. According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), chemical exposure is one of the leading dangers employees face. Unfortunately, employers’ violations of OSHA’s hazard communication standards is number two on OSHA’s Top Ten Rule Violations for 2014.
How Non-Subscriber Employers Fail to Protect Workers From Chemical Hazards
Non-subscriber employers—those who have opted out of workers’ compensation—often do not follow OSHA’s rules for protecting workers from unsafe hazardous chemical exposure. OSHA requires employers who have hazardous chemicals at their workplaces to implement a hazard communication program that includes these six steps:
- Learn OSHA’s rules. Employers need to learn OSHA’s Hazardous Communication Standards and appoint an employee to be in charge of carrying out the rules and training employees.
- Prepare and implement a written hazard communication program. The written program should include an inventory of all hazardous chemicals at the workplace, proper labels for each chemical, safety data sheets, and employee training.
- Ensure containers are labeled. Employers are required to keep labels on shipped containers and properly label their own containers that contain hazardous chemicals. These labels must meet OSHA requirements and warn employees of the hazards of the chemicals.
- Maintain Safety Data Sheets (SDS). Employers are required to have an SDS for each chemical they keep at the workplace. The SDS should contain detailed information on the hazardous chemical, and employees should have access to all SDSs while they are on the job.
- Inform and Train Employees. Employers are required to inform workers of the hazardous chemicals they are exposed to. Employers must also train employees on the hazardous chemicals before they work with them and whenever a new chemical is introduced. Training should include informing the worker of the hazards of the chemical, protective measures that are available and how to use them, and who to contact if a problem arises.
- Evaluate and reassess the program. While OSHA does not require employers to do this, OSHA recommends that employers evaluate their program to ensure it is working properly. In addition, OSHA’s safety standards periodically change and evaluating the program should include being certain the employer is complying with OSHA’s most recent rules.
If you have been injured due to exposure to hazardous chemicals on the job, it could be due to your non-subscriber employer’s failure to follow OSHA’s safety rules. Chemical exposure can result in very serious injuries, including lung and respiratory problems and occupational cancers, and you should not ignore the problem if you suspect you have been injured.
If you have suffered an injury due to hazardous chemical exposure at your job, it is important to consult an experienced workplace injury attorney to help you get the compensation you could be entitled to. Call us at (817) 380-4888 to schedule a free consultation to learn about your legal rights and how we can help you.