Under the provisions of the Hazard Communication Standard,
employers are responsible for informing employees of the
hazards and the identities of workplace chemicals to which
they are exposed.
About 32 million workers work with and are potentially
exposed to one or more chemical hazards. There are an estimated
650,000 existing chemical products, and hundreds of
new ones being introduced annually. This poses a serious
problem for exposed workers and their employers.
Chemical exposure may cause or contribute to many serious
health effects such as heart ailments, central nervous system,
kidney and lung damage, sterility, cancer, burns, and rashes.
Some chemicals may also be safety hazards and have the
potential to cause fires and explosions and other serious
Because of the seriousness of these safety and health problems,
and because many employers and employees know little
or nothing about them, the Occupational Safety and Health
Administration (OSHA) issued the Hazard Communication
Standard. The basic goal of the standard is to be sure employers
and employees know about work hazards and how to
protect themselves; this should help to reduce the incidence of
chemical source illness and injuries.