Lab Standard and the Hazard Communication Standard – Similarities and Differences

Lab Standard and Hazard Communication Standard – What’s their Purpose?

The purpose of both the Laboratory Standard (or Lab Standard) and the Hazard Commumication Standard is to communicate to employees the hazards of the chemicals they are using, and the control measures to prevent exposure to those chemicals.  The Lab Standard is very similar to the Hazard Communication Standard but there are several key differences to note.

Lab Standard and Hazard Communication Standard in Comparison

labThe Lab Standard is similar to the Hazard Communication Standard in that they require the regular maintenance of material safety data sheets (MSDS).  In addition, both standards state that MSDS’s must be readily available to all employees. Another similarity between the two standards is that they both require employee information and training. For instance, the both the Lab Standard and Hazard Communication Standard emphasize that employee training shall include the physical and health hazards

of the chemicals in the work area, and the methods and observations that may be used to detect the release of a hazardous chemical.

The main difference between the Lab Standard and the Hazard Communication Standard is that the Lab Standard is intended for non-production type operations, and the Hazard Communication Standard is intended for production type operations.  The Hazard Communication Standard is intended for operations that produce large quantities of a few chemicals rather than small quantities of a large number of chemicals that are typically found in a lab work environment.

In addition, the Hazard Communication Standard details the criteria of how to properly label chemical substances whereas the Lab Standard does not.  As indicated in OSHA’s Letter of Interpretation, lab operations are only required to ensure that the labels on incoming chemicals are not removed or defaced.  If chemicals are developed in the laboratory the employer is only required to ensure that the employees have appropriate training.

Another main difference between the two, is that the Hazard Communication Standard covers the topic of determining the hazards of chemicals in more depth than the Lab Standard.  For instance, the Hazard Communication Standard presents the criteria for determining if a mixture is hazardous whereas the Lab Standard does not include this information.  Furthermore, the Hazard Communication Standard details the information that should be contained in the MSDS whereas the Lab Standard only covers the maintenance and availability of MSDS.

Conclusion

The Lab Standard resembles the Hazard Communication standard in many areas, but there are some important differences between the two.  These differences are important because they allow employers to understand and differentiate between the chemical safety requirements of uniquely different operations.

If you have questions about either the Lab Standard or the Hazard Communication Standard, please contact Affygility Solutions.  Affygility Solutions can assist you in establishing a compliance management software system that will greatly improve your compliance efforts.  Contact us today for a free, no-obligation quote.


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About Dean Calhoun

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Dean is the President and CEO of Affygility Solutions. Affygility Solutions provides environmental, health and safety software, potent compound safety, industrial hygiene, containment validation services to the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device industry. "Dean's Google+ Profile"

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