Employee Right To Know: Hazard Communication (HazCom)

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Working around chemicals may lead to exposure.  There was a time when employees had no legal means to force their employers to provide them with information about the hazardous chemicals they used at work.  They demanded
a "Right-to-Know," or the right to have access to  information regarding chemical risks and hazards. 

Employees Have A Right To Know

Employees of Maine schools have the right to know the properties and potential safety and health hazards of substances to which they may be exposed. Such knowledge is essential to reducing the risk of occupational illness and injury.  The OSHA process of identifying chemicals in the workplace, protecting employees from the hazards associated with the chemicals, and training employees with respect to protective equipment and reading a MSDS is commonly referred to as hazard communication or HazCom. 

Goals of Right to Know or HazCom:

To help you reduce the risks involved in working with hazardous materials
To transmit vital information to employees about real and potential hazards of substances in the work place
To reduce the incidence and cost of illness and injury resulting from hazardous substances
To promote public employer's need and right to know
To encourage a reduction in the volume and toxicity of hazardous substances

The Four Stages of an effective hazard communication program are:

Material Safety Data Sheets
Labeling and Marking Systems
Employee Training Sessions
Written Right-to-Know Plan


In Maine, the person responsible for the hazard communication plan (the facility manager, Superintendent, and/or supervisor) should be contacted with questions or concerns about hazardous chemicals in and around their schools.