Crest for Policies 

Policy E5
Policy Name: Hazard Communication/Right to Know
Responsibility for Maintenance: Sustainability and Environmental Health and Safety

Date of most recent changes: July 10, 2019

I. Policy Statement

Onondaga Community College employees have a right to be informed of potential hazards associated with chemicals they may use in their employment. This policy seeks to define College and employee responsibility, expectations and actions involving the safe handling of chemicals at the College.

II. Reason for Policy

The College is required to comply with applicable requirements of the New York State Right to Know Law and its implementing regulations and the Occupational Safety & Health Administration's (OSHA) Hazard Communication Standard (29 CFR 1910.1200).1 In general, these requirements address:

  • Container labeling and other forms of warning
  • Notification to Employees
  • Material Safety Data Sheet and Safety Data Sheet requirements
  • Training regarding Employee rights and properties of Chemicals they may be exposed to
  • Implementation of appropriate measures to mitigate or prevent Chemical exposures
  • Satisfaction of record keeping requirements by the College 

    This policy is the College’s Written Hazard Communication Program, which meets the requirements outlined in 29 CFR 1910.1200.

III. Applicability of the Policy

The policy applies in all departments and offices where Employees may be routinely exposed to Hazardous Chemicals. In addition, this policy imposes obligations on Department Heads and Management Services relating to procurement and provision of Safety Data Sheets.

IV. Related Documents

  • 29 CFR Part 1910.1200 – Hazard Communication
  • New York State Labor Law, Article 28 – Toxic Substances
  • Title 12 of the New York Codes, Rules & Regulations, Part 820 – Toxic Substances – Information, Training and Education
  • Onondaga Community College Laboratory Safety Program and Chemical Hygiene Plan

V. Contacts

Subject Office Name Telephone Number Email/URL

Evaluation of Exposure Incidents

Retention of Employee Exposure Records

Retention of Chemical Inventory Records

Acquiring and Updating Material Safety Data Sheets

Training Programs

Sustainability and Environmental Health and Safety (315) 498-2847
[email protected]

VI. Definitions

Term Definition
Chemical Any element, Chemical compound or mixture of elements and/or compounds.
Chemical Name The scientific designation of a Chemical in accordance with the nomenclature system developed by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) or the Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) rules of nomenclature, or a name which will clearly identify the Chemical for the purpose of conducting a hazard evaluation.
Common Name Any designation or identification such as code name, code number, trade name, brand name or generic name used to identify a Chemical other than by its Chemical Name.
Employee A worker who may be Exposed to Hazardous Chemicals under normal operating conditions or in foreseeable emergencies. Workers such as office workers who encounter Hazardous Chemicals only in non-routine, isolated instances are not covered.
Employer A person engaged in a business where Chemicals are either used, distributed, or are produced for use or distribution, including a contractor or subcontractor.
Exposure/Exposed That an Employee is subjected to, in the course of employment, a Chemical that is a physical or health hazard, and includes potential (e.g. accidental or possible) exposure. “Subjected” in terms of health hazards includes any route of entry (e.g. inhalation, ingestion, skin contact or absorption).
Hazardous Chemical Any Chemical that is a physical hazard or a health hazard.
Health Hazard A Chemical for which there is statistically significant evidence based on at least one study conducted in accordance with established scientific principles that acute or chronic health effects may occur in Exposed Employees.
Label Any written, printed, or graphic material displayed on or affixed to containers of Hazardous Chemicals.
Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) Written or printed material concerning a Hazardous Chemical. These are known as Safety Data Sheets (SDS) under new OSHA regulations.
Physical Hazard A Chemical for which there is scientifically valid evidence that it is a combustible liquid, a compressed gas, explosive, flammable, an organic peroxide, an oxidizer, pyrophoric, unstable (reactive) or water-reactive.
Routine Exposure
Routine exposure means exposure which can be expected to occur in the course of employment as part of an employee's job duties.

VII. Procedures

General: Any Chemical that appears in any of the following publications or has yielded evidence of acute or chronic health hazards in human, animal or other biological testing is considered to be a Health Hazard:

  1. CFR Part 1910: Subpart Z Toxic and Hazardous Substances (OSHA).
  2. Threshold Limit Values for Chemical Substances and Physical Agents in the Work Environment, American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) - latest edition.
  3. National Toxicology Program (NTP) Annual Report on Carcinogens - latest edition.
  4. International Agency for Research in Cancer (IARC) Monograms – latest edition.
  5. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health's Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances (RTECS) - latest edition (applies to the New York State Right-To-Know Law only).

A record will be kept of those Employees who are exposed to Chemicals on the OSHA Subpart Z list. These Chemicals have known toxic effects and have had federal exposure limits, called Permissible Exposure Limits (PEL), established. The Employee records will be kept by the Office of Sustainability and Environmental Health and Safety as required under applicable law. It is the responsibility of each Department Head to keep and maintain updated Employee and Chemical inventories for the department, and to forward updated lists to the Office of Sustainability and Environmental Health and Safety. Signs will be posted to inform Employees that they have the right to know about the Hazardous Chemicals to which they are exposed.

List of Hazardous Chemicals: The Office of Sustainability and Environmental Health and Safety will maintain lists of all Hazardous Chemicals used at the College and update the lists as new Chemicals come into the College. Each department is responsible for providing a list of chemicals to the Office of Sustainability and Environmental Health and Safety annually or when new chemicals are acquired by the department. When purchasing new Chemicals, to the extent practicable, the least hazardous substance should be procured.

Safety Data Sheets (SDS): Management Services will obtain an SDS for each new Chemical purchased. The Department Head or designee(s) will ensure that each area maintains an SDS for the Hazardous Chemicals in that area.                  

Employee Access to SDS’s: Employees with Routine Exposure will be trained how to access and read SDS’s. Employees will not need special authorization or permission to access SDS’s. The supervisor of each operational area will ensure that all employees under his or her supervision have access to the SDS’s for the chemicals used in their work areas.

Safety Data Sheet File System Management: The Office of Sustainability and Environmental Health and Safety will be the safety data sheet (SDS) system manager responsible for compiling, maintaining, and filing SDS’s for hazardous chemicals used or stored in work areas where employees may be exposed to such chemicals. The primary location for all SDS will be the online SDS database from the employee website.

SDS Records: An SDS for each hazardous chemical will be kept in the SDS file or database system for as long as the hazardous chemical is used in any work areas.

Transition from MSDS’s to SDS’s: OSHA is phasing out Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) and transitioning to Safety Data Sheets (SDS). Both MSDS’s and SDS’s will be utilized until MSDS’s are completely phased out. The older material safety data sheet (MSDS) will be replaced with the new SDS for each hazardous chemical as it is received with each new chemical shipment.

Labeling: Chemical manufacturers, importers, and distributors must label their containers of Hazardous Chemicals. Therefore, each container coming into the College should already be labeled, tagged, or marked with the following information:

  • Identity of the Hazardous Chemical.
  • Name and address of the Chemical manufacturer or responsible party.
  • Appropriate hazard warnings including Health Hazards, Physical Hazards, target organs and effects, and personal protective equipment.

It is the responsibility of each Department Head, or designee(s) to ensure that each container in the department is labeled, tagged or marked with the identity of the Hazardous Chemical and the appropriate hazard warnings. This warning may be any type of message, words, pictures, or symbols which convey the hazards. Labels must be legible, in English, and prominently displayed. Any defaced or illegible Labels should be reported to the supervisor. Whenever a Chemical is transferred to a non-labeled container, a proper Label must be made-up and affixed to the new container.

The Hazard Communication Standard addresses certain exemptions for in-house labels:

  • If a number of stationary containers within a work area have similar contents and hazards, signs or placards may be posted which conveys the hazard information.
  • Various types of standard operating procedures, process sheets, batch tickets, blend tickets, and similar written materials may be substituted for container labels on stationary process equipment if they contain the same information as the container labels and if they are already available to the Employees in the work area throughout each work shift.
  • If Hazardous Chemicals are transferred from a labeled container to a portable container for immediate use by the Employee who makes the transfer, labels are not required for the portable container.
  • Warning labels are not required for pipes and piping systems. However, contents of such systems should be clearly identified.

Training: Each Employee with Routine Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals will receive initial training on the Hazard Communication/Right-To-Know Law. Training will include the safe use of Hazardous Chemicals before initial assignment, annually thereafter and whenever a new hazard is introduced into their work areas. It is the responsibility of the Department Head, or designee(s), to notify the Office of Sustainability and Environmental Health and Safety before a new hazard is introduced to Employees. A written log will be kept by the Office of Sustainability and Environmental Health and Safety of all the Employees who have received training. The Office of Sustainability and Environmental Health and Safety will also maintain records of training needs of each department. The content of the training will comply with OSHA 29 CFR 1910.1200 and NYS 12 CRR-NY 820.4.

The determination of which Employees are required to receive specific safety training will be based upon their Routine Exposure. It is the intent of the College to ensure that Employees receive information regarding all of the Chemicals in their work areas and that they are prepared to deal with any unexpected releases or emergency situations, as well as Routine Exposures encountered during the normal course of employment.

Non-routine tasks: These tasks are those which are not performed on a routine basis and which may involve contact with a Hazardous Chemical. The Department Head or designee(s) will determine what hazards are present or may be created by a task. The Department Head or designee(s) is (are) responsible for communicating this information and must inform the Employees of any special equipment, such as portable ventilation systems and/or personal protective equipment, that will be needed. The Department Head or designee(s) should contact the Office of Sustainability and Environmental Health and Safety for advice concerning non-routine tasks.

1 The OSHA Hazard Communication Standard has been adopted by the New York State Commissioner of Labor as an applicable standard for the health and safety of public Employees.

Approved by OCC Board of Trustees April 3, 2006

Updated and approved by the President June 9, 2011

Updated and approved by the President April 30, 2013

Updated and approved by the President April 14, 2014

Updated and approved by the President March 28, 2016

Updated and approved by the President July 10, 2019