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OSHA and hazardous materials

California workers may benefit from reviewing some of the U.S. Department of Labor's information on handling chemical hazards and toxic substances. These materials are considered to cause physical hazards that include corrosion, reactivity and flammability. The materials are often hazardous to the health as well, typically by increasing carcinogenicity, sensitization and irritation. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is the authority responsible for ensuring employers adequately inform workers about the safety risks located in workplace.

OSHA also requires employers to provide the appropriate equipment to properly protect workers from hazardous risks. The agency's Hazard Communication Standard requires employers to display information that identifies and explains the safety risks associated with hazardous chemicals used at the workplace. In addition, importers are required to provide safety data sheets, evaluations and information on any hazardous chemicals in shipment. Employers are required to properly train workers to safely use hazardous materials and protect themselves from suffering preventable harm as well.

OSHA also requires employers to minimize hazardous respiratory conditions at the workplace by complying with the permissible occupational exposure limits. The enforceable limits are designed to protect employees from exposure or inhaling hazardous materials by limiting the airborne concentration levels of certain chemicals. According to OSHA, work practice and engineering controls may be the most effective means towards reducing these safety risks on the job. The agency recommends utilizing respiratory protection while the transition towards improved safety controls is underway.

People who suffer toxic exposure at the workplace may benefit from contacting legal counsel as soon as possible. A workers' compensation attorney may be able to help injured employees receive the benefits that they are entitled to.

Source: United States Department of Labor, "Chemical Hazards and Toxic Substances", September 21, 2014

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