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Staying in Compliance With OSHA Labeling Requirements

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OSHA is an organization that provides oversight for employers to make sure that they comply with workplace safety rules. If workers come into contact with hazardous materials as part of their job description, these materials must be properly labeled. Failing to do so could result in fines and other disciplinary action taken against a company or individual managers.

Labels Must Identify What the Product Is

A key part of any OSHA label is identifying what it is that a worker may be handling. This is critical because employees who don’t know what they are working with could unknowingly put themselves in danger. For instance, handling a chemical without gloves could lead to skin burns. If a person handles a potential allergen without gloves, it could cause a rash or a more serious and potentially life-threatening reaction.

Labels Must Identify the Specific Danger With Pictures

In addition to describing the product in question, it must describe the specific danger of using that product with a symbol. For instance, if an item could be a fire hazard, there must be a picture of a flame or something similar on the label. If the item could release toxic fumes into the air, the label must have a picture of a person breathing in a substance. The pictures are required to ensure that anyone can quickly assess the risk of using a given material even if they can’t read or can’t read English words well.

Hazard Statements Must Be Provided

There must be a concise and clear statement on an OSHA label that mentions the hazard or hazards a worker may face when using an item. If an object could irritate the skin, this would be mentioned in the hazard statement. If an object could contain silica dust, the hazard statement should disclose that hazard as well. In some cases, products will have multiple hazards and therefore have multiple statements.

Labels Should Contain Usage and Storage Instructions

OSHA labeling requirements make it mandatory to include information about how to use and store a product. In some cases, a product may need to be kept at room temperature or in a container that is not exposed to light. If workers need gloves, goggles or other safety equipment when using a given material, that information should be part of the label as well.

Employers need to do everything that they can to keep workers safe on the job. By meeting labeling requirements, they make it easier for employees to take steps needed to do their work without getting hurt. This may increase worker productivity while also reducing the odds that employers are fined or held criminally liable for employee injuries or illnesses.

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