Heat Illness and Injury Prevention

In response to heat related illness and injury, OSHA has instituted a Heat Illness Prevention Campaign to educate employers and workers on the dangers of working in the heat.

The Campaign includes:

  • General education about heat illness,
  • Employer responsibilities for keeping workers safe in the heat, and
  • Worker rights and information about working in heat.

The Heat Illness Prevention Campaign site includes numerous resources, including links to OSHA publications related to heat and other agency resources related to working in the heat.

If your employees are exposed to dangers associated with working in the heat, consider developing and implementing a Heat Illness Prevention Plan so you are prepared in advance of finalization of OSHA’s proposed standard for Heat Injury and Illness Prevention.

In addition to employer responsibility to protect employees from injury and illness under federal OSHA requirements, state agencies may have specific regulations and requirements related to working in the heat such as:

It is important to monitor worker activities giving consideration to aspects that may increase the risk to employees, such as use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and level of physical activity, and implement protective measures necessary to keep employees safe.

Contact VBA Compliance Assurance if you need assistance with safety compliance and developing OSHA programs.

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OSHA COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Standard

OSHA has finalized and published the COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), effective November 5, 2021. The ETS is expected to be in effect for six months.

State Requirements

OSHA has stated it “intends for the ETS to preempt and invalidate any State or local requirements that ban or limit an employer’s authority to require vaccination, face covering, or testing. State and local requirements that prohibit employers from implementing employee vaccination mandates, or from requiring face coverings in workplaces, serve as a barrier to OSHA’s implementation of this ETS, and to the protection of America’s workforce from COVID-19.”

The ETS covers states under Federal OSHA authority. States that are authorized to enforce their own occupational health programs, considered “State Plan States”, must adopt the Federal ETS or adopt a state-specific ETS that is at least as effective as the Federal ETS by December 5, 2021.

Employer Obligations

Under the ETS:

  • Employers must determine if they are covered by the ETS, which includes private-sector employers with 100 or more employees, firm or company-wide, on November 5, 2021. Section 2.A. of the Frequently Asked Questions can help with this determination.
    • An employer must come into compliance with the ETS if it did not employ 100 or more employees on November 5, 2011 but meets that threshold while the ETS is in effect.
    • Though they must be counted toward the 100-employee threshold, the provisions for vaccination and testing do not apply to employees who do not report to a workplace where other individuals such as coworkers or customers are present, employees while they are working from home, or employees who work exclusively outdoors.
  • Covered employers must develop, implement and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy or adopt a policy that requires employees that choose not to be vaccinated to undergo regular COVID-19 testing and wear a face covering while at the workplace.

Compliance dates are as follows:

  • By December 5, 2021, employers must comply with all provisions of the rule other than weekly COVID-19 testing for unvaccinated employees.
  • By January 4, 2022 Employers must comply with the provisions requiring weekly testing for unvaccinated employees.
    • If an employee completes the entire primary vaccination series by January 4, 2022, that employee does not have to be tested even if the employee has not yet completed the two-week waiting period that is required to meet the definition of fully vaccinated.

Key Components of the ETS

Key components of the ETS include:

  • Develop, implement and enforce a mandatory written COVID-19 vaccination policy with an option to allow unvaccinated employees to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing and wear a face covering while at the workplace
    • See OSHA’s templates under Implementation, Policy Templates
    • Employers with existing policies must modify and/or update their current policies to incorporate any missing required elements, and must provide information on these updates or modifications to all employees
    • Employees that have an approved reason for not being vaccinated (e.g., medically contraindicated, medical necessity requiring delay in vaccination, reasonable accommodation under federal civil rights laws because of disability or sincerely-held religious belief) must fall under the COVID-19 test and mask mandate
    • The policy must address new employees – new hires should be treated similarly to any employee who has not entered the workplace in the last seven days and will need to be fully vaccinated or provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test within the last seven days prior to entering the workplace for the first time
  • Determine of employee vaccination status of each employee
    • Obtain acceptable proof of each employee’s vaccination (employees that cannot provide acceptable proof must be considered to be unvaccinated)
    • Maintain records of each employee’s vaccination status
    • Maintain a roster of each employee’s vaccination status
  • Support employee vaccination by providing reasonable paid time off to obtain vaccination and for sick leave to recover from vaccination side effects
  • Require unvaccinated employees to obtain an approved COVID-19 test every 7 days (if in the workplace at least once per week) or within 7 days if returning to work (if away from workplace for a week or longer)
    • Test must be FDA-approved and cannot be self-administered and self-read
    • Employee must not be allowed on-site until acceptable test result is provided
  • Require employees to report a positive COVID-19 test result or diagnosis by a licensed health care provider, remove employee from workplace, and keep out of the workplace until meeting acceptable criteria for return to work
  • Require each unvaccinated employee to wear a face covering while at work or when occupying a vehicle with another person for work purposes
    • Face coverings must meet ETS definition of approved face covering
    • Not required when alone in a fully enclosed room with door closed
    • Not required for short periods when eating or drinking or for safety and security identification
    • Not required when wearing respirators or facemasks
    • Not required where infeasible or creates greater hazard
  • Provide required information to all employees related to ETS and subsequent workplace policies, CDC document on vaccines, information on protections against retaliation and discrimination, and information about laws related to supplying false information
    • Updates must be provided to all employees when policies and/or procedures change
  • Maintain all required records
    • Must be maintained as an employee confidential medical record, but only for the term of the ETS or subsequent final standard
  • Report work-related COV ID-19 fatalities and in-patient hospitalizations to OSHA
    • If an employee is hospitalized or dies from workplace COVID-19 exposure at any time after that exposure, it must be reported.

OSHA has published guidance on implementation of the rule, including a webinar and frequently asked questions.

Proposed Final Rule

The ETS also serves as a proposal for normal rulemaking for a final standard. OSHA is accepting comments on the ETS and whether it should be adopted as a final standard. If not adopted as a final standard, the ETS will continue to be effective until withdrawn by OSHA. Stakeholders may submit comments and attachments, identified by Docket No. OSHA-2021-0007, electronically at www.regulations.gov.

Contact VBA Compliance Assurance if you need assistance with OSHA regulatory compliance.

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Upcoming Small Quantity Generator (SQG) Reporting Deadline

In 2016, EPA adopted the Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule that includes a requirement for all small quantity generators (SQGs) to re-notify the EPA or state agency of hazardous waste activities. In short, SQGs generate more than 100 kilograms but less than 1,000 kilograms of non-acute hazardous waste per month. SQGs must re-notify EPA or their state agency by September 1, 2021 and every four (4) years thereafter.

To determine applicability and submit the re-notification you should:

  • Determine if your facility location(s) is under EPA jurisdiction or if your state has adopted and been authorized for the Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule
  • Verify your hazardous waste generator status and reporting requirement using the applicable regulations
    • Some authorized states have definitions of hazardous waste generator categories that are more stringent than EPA’s definitions and/or may require reporting more frequently and/or in addition to the SQG re-notification
  • Determine if a complete notification was submitted for your facility during the four (4) years prior to the due date
    • If you submitted a complete notification of regulated activity or EPA Site ID Form (or state equivalent) anytime within the four years before the September 1, 2021 deadline the re-notification obligation is considered to be met
    • The requirement for generators to re-notify whenever there is a change to the site contact, ownership, or type of RCRA Subtitle C hazardous waste activity conducted remains in place and is independent of the four (4)-year re-notification requirement
  • Identify the required method to be used when filing the SQG re-notification
    • EPA generally requires Notification of RCRA Subtitle C Activities (Site Identification Form), also known as EPA Form 8700-12, and many states have adopted the use of this form
    • Consult form instructions for correct mailing address if sending hard copy form
    • Some states allow (or require) use of an electronic system, such as MyRCRAID
    • Signatory/certification requirements (e.g., Responsible Corporate Official) should be determined and form/submittal must be signed/certified accordingly

VBA professionals can assist you with identifying and fulfilling environmental compliance obligations. Please contact a VBA Compliance Assurance professional if you need assistance with hazardous waste generator reporting and/or EHS compliance.

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OSHA Coronavirus National Emphasis Program

OSHA has launched a National Emphasis Program (NEP) related to COVID-19. NEPs are temporary programs that focus OSHA’s resources on particular hazards and high-hazard industries. According to OSHA, the COVID-19 NEP is meant to focus OSHA’s enforcement  efforts on:

  • Companies that put the largest number of workers at serious risk of contracting the coronavirus; and
  • Companies that in part have higher numbers of deaths and/or hospitalizations due to occupational exposures to COVID-19.

The COVID-19 NEP inspections will enhance previous coronavirus enforcement efforts but will also include follow-up inspections of previously inspected worksites to ensure abatement actions have been implemented as required.

The COVID-19 NEP is set to remain in effect until March 12, 2022, though OSHA can amend or cancel the NEP during this effective period.

In conjunction with the issuance of the NEP, OSHA updated its Interim Enforcement Response Plan to prioritize on-site inspection over remote inspection and will focus on employers deemed to be not making good faith efforts to protect workers. This amended action will go into effect on March 18, 2021.

Please contact VBA Compliance Assurance if you need assistance with establishing programs for worker protection.

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Environmental, Health and Safety Reporting

At the beginning of a new year, it is important to review facility operations and identify environmental, health and safety (EHS) reporting requirements to ensure reporting deadlines are met. Reporting requirements may have been modified since prior year’s reports, so it is also important to review reporting instructions and regulatory changes before filing.

The following is a brief summary of common, recurring EHS reporting requirements:

  1. EPCRA Tier II Reporting – This report provides State, local officials and the public with specific information about chemicals stored at a facility and potential hazards associated with those chemicals. This report is due annually by March 1 for any facility that exceeds the reporting thresholds. Follow state procedures for filing these reports.
  2. OSHA Injury and Illness Reporting – OSHA requires establishments that meet minimum number of employee thresholds in specified industries to file injury and illness information electronically annually by March 2.
  3. EPA Greenhouse Gas Reporting – This report is required for large greenhouse gas emission sources. The report is due annually by March 31.
  4. EPCRA Toxic Release Inventory Report – This report is required by certain industrial facilities that manufacture, process, or otherwise use reportable chemicals above the reporting thresholds. The report is due annually by July 1.
  5. DOT Hazmat Registration – Offerors and transporters of certain quantities and types of hazardous materials, including hazardous wastes, are required to file an annual registration statement with the U.S. Department of Transportation and to pay a fee. This report is due annually by July 1.
  6. Small Quantity Hazardous Waste Generator (SQG) Site Notification Update – This report is required by SQGs located in a State where EPA is the enforcement authority or where the State enforcement authority has adopted the EPA hazardous waste rule. The report is due every four years, with the first reporting deadline being September 1, 2021.
  7. Air Emissions Inventories – These reports are triggered by State air regulations and are triggered by air permit requirements and/or the air emissions that occurred at the facility during the reporting period. State regulations and/or air permit requirements specify reporting due dates.

Even if a facility does not trigger the reporting requirement, many of the associated regulations require that documentation is maintained demonstrating a report was not required to be submitted.

This is just a small list of potentially applicable EHS reporting requirements. If you need assistance identifying regulatory reporting requirements or would like to develop an EHS Compliance Calendar specific to your facility EHS regulatory applicability, contact a VBA expert for help.

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EHS Agency COVID-19 Guidance

Environmental, health and safety regulatory agencies are issuing guidance related to protecting employees and dealing with regulatory challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Some agencies are offering regulatory relief, compliance extensions and/or decreased enforcement actions due to this unprecedented situation. Many are updating contact information and methods for fulfilling regulatory obligations through electronic filings. In an effort to assist the regulated community, VBA Compliance Assurance has developed this list of consolidated links to EHS agency COVID-19 responses.

Federal Environmental

Federal Safety

Federal Transportation

State Environmental

State Safety

We sincerely hope this list is a helpful resource for industries navigating this difficult time. If you know of any other links or guidance documents that you think would be helpful to include, please email the information to [email protected].

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Changes to Emission Estimations for Liquid Storage Tanks

AP-42 is the primary compilation of EPA’s emissions factor information and contains emissions factors and process information for more than 200 air pollution source categories. It is used by facilities as a source of emission factors when determining air emissions where site-specific emission factors through methods such as source testing are not available. Accurate determination of air emissions is required to identify facility source classifications and air permit requirements and when performing actual emissions calculations and emissions reporting.

In November 2019, the EPA published a revision to AP-42 Chapter 7, Section 7.1 – Organic Liquid Storage Tanks, which presents models for estimating volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions and, depending on material stored, speciated toxic or hazardous compound emissions. The emission estimation equations have been developed and updated by the American Petroleum Institute (API).

This emissions estimation reference replaces EPA’s TANKS Emissions Estimation Software (most recent version 4.09D, August 2012), which was developed on software that is now outdated. EPA has discontinued support for TANKS and recommends use of the AP-42 Chapter 7, Section 7.1 emissions equations.

Changes in the November 2019 revision of AP-42 Ch. 7.1 include:

  • The use of average vapor temperature rather than average liquid surface temperature when calculating stock vapor density,
  • New equations for partially insulated tanks,
  • Working loss equations based on net working height rather than maximum liquid height,
  • Working loss throughput calculated as a function of cumulative increases in liquid level,
  • Updated Antoine’s constants for selected petrochemicals (Table 7.1-3),
  • Updated values for paint solar absorptance (Table 7.1-6), and
  • Updated meteorological data for selected US locations (Table 7.1-7).

State environmental agencies have begun requiring use of the November 2019 revision to AP-42 Ch. 7.1 for calculating emissions from organic liquid storage tanks. For example:

  • TCEQ required air permit applications relying on AP-42 factors to use the updated emission factors beginning on December 16, 2019; and
  • As of February 20, 2020, LDEQ will no longer accept air permit applications that rely on TANKS and air permit applications must use the November 2019 version of AP-42, Ch. 7.1.

VBA Compliance Assurance can assist you with updating your air emissions calculations and air permit determinations using the new AP-42 Ch. 7.1 emissions estimation techniques. If you need assistance with air permitting and/or air emissions reporting, contact a VBA professional.

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Aerosol Cans Added to Universal Waste Rule

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) added hazardous waste aerosol cans to the universal waste program. The universal waste regulations allow an alternative management option for hazardous wastes designated as universal wastes, provided the requirements for management as a universal waste are met. This reduces the regulatory burden for management of these wastes, and the wastes do not have to be counted toward a facility’s hazardous waste generator status when managed in compliance with universal waste regulations.

The final rule becomes effective February 7, 2020 within the states for which EPA is the RCRA authority. If a state agency is the RCRA authority rather than EPA, the state agency must adopt these new regulations for them to be applicable within that state.

Under the rule, an aerosol can means a non-refillable receptacle containing a gas compressed, liquefied, or dissolved under pressure, the sole purpose of which is to expel a liquid, paste, or powder and fitted with a self-closing release device allowing the contents to be ejected by the gas. The rule does not apply to the following types of aerosol cans:

  • Not yet considered a waste (an aerosol can becomes a waste on either the date it is discarded for used cans or the date a person decides to discard it for unused cans);
  • Not classified as a hazardous waste; and
  • Meets the standard for empty containers under 40 CFR 261.7.

Generally, handlers of universal waste aerosol cans must manage the waste in a way that prevents releases of any universal waste or component of a universal waste to the environment, as follows:

  • Universal waste aerosol cans must be accumulated in a container that is:
    • structurally sound;
    • compatible with the contents of the aerosol cans;
    • lacks evidence of leakage, spillage, or damage that could cause leakage under reasonably foreseeable conditions; is protected from sources of heat; and
    • Is labeled or marked clearly with any of the following phrases: ‘‘Universal Waste—Aerosol Can(s),’’ ‘‘Waste Aerosol Can(s),’’ or ‘‘Used Aerosol Can(s)’’;
  • Universal waste aerosol cans that show evidence of leakage must be packaged in a separate closed container or overpacked with absorbents, or immediately punctured and drained; and
  • As long as each aerosol can is not breached and remains intact, a handler may:
    • Sort aerosol cans by type;
    • Mix intact cans in one container; and
    • Remove actuators to reduce the risk of accidental release.

A handler that punctures and drains aerosol cans under the universal waste program must recycle the empty punctured aerosol cans and meet the following requirements:

  1. Conduct puncturing and draining activities using a device specifically designed to safely puncture aerosol cans and effectively contain the residual contents and any emissions;
  2. Establish and follow a written procedure detailing how to safely puncture and drain the universal waste aerosol cans:
    • Must include proper assembly, operation and maintenance of the unit, segregation of incompatible wastes, and proper waste management practices to prevent fires or releases;
    • Must maintain a copy of the manufacturer’s specification and instruction on site; and
    • Must ensure employees operating the device are trained in the proper procedures;
  3. Ensure that puncturing of the can is done in a manner designed to prevent fires and to prevent the release of any component of universal waste to the environment:
    • Includes locating the equipment on a solid, flat surface in a well-ventilated area;
  4. Immediately transfer the contents from the waste aerosol can or puncturing device, if applicable, to a container or tank that meets the applicable requirements for hazardous waste containers;
  5. Conduct a hazardous waste determination on the contents of the emptied aerosol can and manage that material in accordance with the applicable hazardous waste regulations for the facility’s hazardous waste generator status;
    • If the contents are determined to be nonhazardous, the handler may manage the waste in any way that is in compliance with applicable Federal, state, or local solid waste regulations; and
  6. Establish and follow a written procedure in the event of a spill or leak and a spill clean-up kit must be provided:
    • All spills or leaks of the contents of the aerosol cans must be cleaned up promptly.

If you need assistance with determining EHS applicability, determining hazardous waste management requirements, or complying with the requirements of universal waste regulations, contact a VBA professional.

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First California Cleaning Product Right to Know Act Deadline Approaching

The first compliance deadline under the California Health and Safety Code Cleaning Product Right to Know Act of 2017 (the Act) is January 1, 2020, and manufacturers of applicable products must be in compliance to continue selling their products in California.

The Act is intended to provide consumers and workers with ingredient information about designated products. It requires manufacturers of specified cleaning products, including those manufactured for use by household, institutional or commercial consumers, to disclose ingredient information on the product label and the manufacturer’s website.

The following types of chemically formulated consumer products are considered designated products under the Act, if not exempted:

  • Air care products – eliminates odors or freshens the air
  • Automotive products – maintains the appearance of a motor vehicle (washing, waxing, polishing, cleaning or surface treatment)
  • General cleaning product – soap, detergent or other product the purpose of which is to clean, disinfect, or otherwise care for fabric, dishes, or other wares; surfaces including, but not limited to, floors, furniture, countertops, showers, and baths; or other hard surfaces, such as stovetops, microwaves, and other appliances
  • Polish or floor maintenance product – product meant to polish, protect, buff, condition or temporarily seal or maintain furniture, floors, metal, leather or other surfaces

Upcoming deadlines include:

  1. January 1, 2020 – beginning on this date and continuing after, manufacturers must post for public access online disclosures of intentionally added ingredients, fragrance ingredients, or nonfunctional constituents (as defined in the ACT)
  2. January 1, 2021 – beginning on this date and continuing after, manufacturers must disclose specific information on the label related to ingredients and constituents within the product, company toll-free number and website address, and additional statement if all ingredient information isn’t included on the label
  3. January 1, 2023 – beginning on this date and continuing after, Proposition 65 ingredients must be included on the ingredient list

For any designated product manufactured before one of the above compliance dates, the product labeling and online posting information does not apply as long as each product is marked with the day, month and year of manufacture of the product or a date code combined with a toll-free phone number for obtaining date of manufacture.

Information that must be posted on the manufacturer website for each designated product by January 1, 2020 generally includes:

  • A list of intentionally added ingredients, including specific information for fragrance ingredients or allergens;
  • A list of all nonfunctional constituents in the designated product at a concentration at or above 0.01 percent (100 parts per million);
  • The Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) chemical identification number for all listed chemicals;
  • The functional purpose served by each intentionally added ingredient;
  • Electronic links to government information websites for chemicals contained in an array of lists known in the Act as “designated list”; and
  • Links to the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for each product.

The information that must be disclosed is based on chemical traits and hazards within 22 chemical lists and any subsequent revisions, referred to and published in the Act as the “designated list”. The online information must be updated no later than six months and product label information updated no later than 18 months after the adoption of a revision to any of the lists that are designated.

VBA Compliance Assurance can assist you with your EHS compliance needs. Contact VBA if you need assistance determining if the requirements of the Act apply to your company and, if so, which products are subject to required disclosures.

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OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard and Upcoming Changes

OSHA’s Spring 2019 regulatory agenda indicated that the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) for updating the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), 29 CFR 1910.1200, to the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) Version 7 is expected in December 2019. The 2012 update of the HCS was based on GHS Version 3, so facilities can expect numerous changes to the HCS to align with GHS Versions 4 – 7 and to codify enforcement policies that have been issued by OSHA since the issuance of HCS 2012.

Examples of changes to the GHS since HCS 2012 that may (or may not) be incorporated into the amended HCS include:

  • New physical hazard categories;
  • Clarification of criteria to assist in the hazard classification processes;
  • New test methods for oxidizing solids;
  • Provisions meant to clarify the criteria for some hazard classes for determining if a chemical is within that hazard class;
  • Revised and simplified classification and labeling summary tables;
  • New codification system for hazard pictograms;
  • New hazard class for desensitized explosives, unstable gases and non-flammable aerosols;
  • New hazard category for pyrophoric gases;
  • Changes to categories for flammable gases;
  • Additional information to be included in Section 9 and Section 14 of safety data sheets (SDSs); and
  • Updates to some health hazard class definitions for clarity.

The HCS has been #2 on OSHA’s Top Ten list for most violated standards for the last five years, and that is not likely to change with the pending updates to the HCS. This may lead companies to try to get a jump start on complying with the new requirements in advance of the rulemaking, but this should be avoided. OSHA has not indicated which elements of the updated GHS it will adopt, and making changes on what might occur could cause noncompliance with the current HCS. Manufacturers and importers cannot begin making changes to SDSs and container labels until the new rule is finalized, since rule modifications regarding hazard classifications and labeling are still unknown. If the 2012 update to the HCS is any indication, the final rule will be issued with a timeline of compliance that will give a significant amount of time for companies to achieve compliance with the amended HCS.

So, what can you do now to prepare for the HCS changes? The key is to ensure compliance with the current HCS prior to issuance of the amended HCS. Manufacturers and importers can review hazard classifications, SDSs, and container labels to make sure they are compliant with current requirements. Employers that are end users of chemicals can perform the below steps to verify compliance with HCS 2012:

  1. Review your chemical inventory to ensure all facility chemicals are included and are listed in a manner that allows easy cross-reference to the correct SDS;
  2. Review SDSs to make sure you have an SDS for all chemicals located at your facility;
  3. Review SDSs to make sure they are the most current version issued by the manufacturer;
  4. Obtain SDSs for any chemical without an SDS or for chemicals with outdated SDSs;
  5. Check systems and procedures to make sure all employees have ready access to SDSs, including in the event of a power failure if SDS access is electronic;
  6. Check systems and procedures to make sure they are effective in managing hazard communication requirements for contract workers and temporary employees;
  7. Review workplace container labels to make sure that all required information is depicted on labels and that labels meet requirements for durability, legibility and visibility;
  8. Review your Hazard Communication Plan (HCP) to make sure that all OSHA-required elements are addressed in the HCP;
  9. Review your HCP to make sure that it accurately reflects facility operations and chemicals, and that it is being implemented as required; and
  10. Review training programs to make sure all required training elements are included, that the training is adequate and appropriate to the hazards that exist at the facility, and that all employees have received the required training.

Employee safety is one of the top priorities of the HCS, and your compliance with the HCS helps ensure employees are aware of the hazards to which they may be exposed and how to protect themselves from those hazards. If you need assistance ensuring the safety of your employees or completing any of the above steps, contact VBA Compliance Assurance. Our safety professionals can review your hazard communication program, chemical management and OSHA compliance and help you implement any necessary measures to support continued safety compliance.

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