Hazard Communication (HazCom) Program

Hazard Communication (HazCom) Program

February 11, 2014

The Hazard Communication Program (HazCom), a program required by Cal/OSHA, is designed to maintain a healthy work environment by increasing employee awareness about the hazards of the chemicals that they work with. A major component of the Hazard Communication program is Safety Data Sheets (SDS), a valuable source of information on physical properties and hazards of chemicals.

An SDS should be obtained for each and every one of the chemicals that is used by your department, division, laboratory, or shop. Each SDS has to be specific to the product that it describes and specific to the manufacturer of the substance.

The Office of Environment, Health & Safety recommends that each department or lab which uses chemicals place one person in charge of maintaining the Safety Data Sheets. This person is responsible for making sure that there is a SDS on file for every hazardous substance in the area and that the SDSs are kept in a location where everyone in the department or lab group can access the information. EH&S recommends filing SDS in a brightly colored binder, labeled “SDS”, and located in an area where other safety and emergency information is kept.

Another component of Hazard Communication is container labeling. All containers of chemicals at UCLA should be labeled with the contents even if it is known what is in the container.

Safety Data Sheets (SDS)

The manufacturer or distributor of hazardous substances is required to provide a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for every substance that they distribute. The manufacturer is often the best source of the SDS, since the information provided by the manufacturer is usually the most current and most accurate. Additionally, Cal/OSHA requires that SDS must be manufacturer specific. Manufacturer SDSs are available through the following routes:

  • Included with Chemical Shipment: Often, the SDS for the chemical is received with the shipping papers. If so, simply collect the most recent copy and file it in your SDS binder.
  • Requesting a SDS from the Manufacturer: Information about the manufacturer should be present on the label of the substance or with the shipping papers. Call the manufacturer and request an SDS. Many companies will fax the SDS to you as soon as they get a request. Others prefer to mail the SDS. If you do not receive any response from the manufacturer within 25 days after the request, contact EH&S for assistance.
  • EH&S Assistance: EH&S is available to help you get started in collecting the SDSs that you require. If you are having trouble getting an SDS from a manufacturer, do not hesitate to call (310) 825-5689 for assistance.

Web Based Retrieval

Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) are also starting to become readily available on the world wide web. This is often a convenient and quick way to retrieve SDSs. A few words of warning: there are some SDSs on the web that are not the most current data; you should be using the most current SDS for the chemical and one that is specific to the manufacturer of the chemical that you use. A good starting point for internet SDS retrieval is the University of California SDS page, which has a database of SDSs provided by the University of California to faculty, staff and students.  The UC Office of the President also offers a page  with links to other SDS databases, including some specific to office products.

Additional Web Based Information on Hazardous Substances

UCLA employees and students have access to a database known as Tomes that provides additional web based information on hazardous substances. Tomes is a collection of databases comprised of toxicology and hazard communication information. Tomes information cannot be used in lieu of manufacturer specific SDSs, but Tomes can be a valuable resource to augment the SDS information.

Injury Prevention Program Division
Email: injuryprevention@ehs.ucla.edu | Phone: (310) 794-5329 | Fax: (310) 825-7076


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