California law requires that all employers provide and maintain a safe and healthful workplace for their employees. The hazard communications regulations emphasize workplace safety by requiring employers to inform their employees of the hazardous substances to which they are exposed at the job site. These regulations are found in Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations (T8 CCR), Section 5194.
The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act (Proposition 65) was added in 1991 and can be found in subsection 5194(b)(6). A Cal/OSHA document, Guide to the California Hazard Communications Regulation, states: “Compliance with Proposition 65 requirements for notifying employees of hazards can be achieved simply by complying with the provisions of California’s hazard communication regulation.”
Section 5194 requires all employers to provide information to their employees about the hazardous substances to which they may be exposed by means of a hazard communications program, labels and other forms of warnings, Material Safety Data Sheets, and training. There are no exceptions to this requirement. Your Hazard Communications Program (HCP) must be designed to provide information to your employees about the physical and health hazards associated with materials used in your practice. At a minimum, your HCP must address the following requirements:
- Adequate labeling of all hazardous materials
- Maintenance of a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) collection readily accessible to employees
- Employee training on hazardous materials in your practice and your HCP
- Maintenance of a list of hazardous substances found in your facility
- Employee alerts about the hazards associated with non-routine tasks
- Informing outside contractors about the hazardous substances to which they may be exposed and the precautions their employees may take.