Protection From Hazardous Workplace Chemicals
New Jersey is the corporate home of many chemical and pharmaceutical giants, including Dow Chemical, DuPont and Merck Pharmaceuticals. The Chemistry Council of New Jersey — a chemical industry trade and labor group — has dozens of member companies in the chemical, petroleum, fragrance and pharmaceutical industries that contribute to the state economy. While the member companies of the CCNJ directly contribute tens of thousands of much-needed jobs to the New Jersey economy, employees who encounter potentially hazardous chemicals in their jobs could be at risk for occupational illnesses and diseases.
OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard
Since 1970, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has held employers responsible for keeping the workplace healthful and safe. In 1983, OSHA set forth a Hazard Communication Standard requiring employers to provide workers with information about potentially dangerous chemicals, substances or situations they might encounter on the job.
The U.S. Secretary of Labor has stated that one of the worst dangers to American workers is exposure to hazardous chemicals. To help alleviate that danger, OSHA has now revised its Hazard Communication Standard. The new standard will be aligned with an international system the United Nations developed for labeling chemicals. With more consistent, clearer labels and safety data sheets for dangerous chemicals, workers will have better access to facts about the risks associated with exposure.
The latest revision will make safety training easier, allowing employees to better understand what will happen if chemicals are misused or spilled, and make working with hazardous substances safer and easier.
The new standard went into full effect in 2016. OSHA officials estimate that the updates could prevent hundreds of injuries and dozens of deaths annually. Businesses that use hazardous chemicals and update the safety data sheets and labels on these substances will benefit from increased productivity and could save an estimated $32.2 million collectively.
CCNJ expects its member companies to be leaders in informing their employees and contractors about both risks and benefits associated with chemical and pharmaceutical companies. It also directs companies to operate in such a way as to put their employees’ health and safety paramount. New Jersey workers in the CCNJ member companies, and in every business where chemical hazards exist, should benefit from OSHA’s improved communication standard.
Even when conscientious employers comply with OSHA standards, accidents can still happen when dangerous substances are involved. Any worker harmed by a hazardous chemical should consult a personal injury attorney to learn more about possible compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.