Hazard Communication


Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) is a standardized, international approach to hazard communication. The standard, which was previously known as the 'Right to Know', is now referred to as the “Right to Understand.” The purpose of the standard is to ensure employees are informed of: the hazards of chemicals they may encounter in their workplace, the proper personal protective equipment to use to protect themselves from the hazards, and procedures to follow in the event of an exposure to hazardous chemicals. You, as an RIT employee, have the right to know the properties and potential health & safety hazards of any hazardous chemical to which you may be exposed. (A hazardous chemical is any chemical that may harm you physically or that may pose a hazard to your health.)

There are Five major elements to a Hazard Communication Program:

  • Written Hazard Communication Plan
  • Chemical Inventory- completed annually
  • Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs)/Safety Data Sheets (SDSs)-retained locally where chemicals are used
  • Labeling & Marking- proper labeling of containers
  • Employee Information & Training

Applicable Regulation

29 CFR 1910.1200

Program Management Requirements

This program requires many facets of participation. The following items are critical to successful implementation of the RIT Hazard Communication Plan:

  • Development of a RIT Hazard Communication Plan
  • Employee and Student Training
  • Availability and accessibility of MSDSs/SDSs
  • Appropriate chemical labelling
  • Providing appropriate engineering controls, workplace safety controls and personal protective equipment where required.

Chemical manufacturers or importers are required to assess the hazards of chemicals which they produce and to provide end users with this information through the use of appropriate labels and Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs)/Safety Data Sheets (SDSs). 

RIT as the employer is responsible for ensuring that employees are appropriately informed and trained, appropriate provisions are made for the employees to protect themselves from the hazards they may encounter, and the Hazard Communication Plan is documented.

This program also requires departmental, supervisory and employee participation. This participation can be accomplished by: ensuring that you attend required training, maintaining appropriate container labeling of the chemicals you use, ensuring MSDS/SDS are available for the chemicals you have in your department, and by following workplace safety practices and controls for the chemicals you are using.

Training Requirements

All non-laboratory employees are required to receive hazard communication training prior to working with hazardous chemicals. Refresher training must also be provided when new types of chemical hazards are introduced to the workplace.

The RIT generic Hazard Communication online training presentation is provided by the RIT EH&S Department through the Center for Professional Development. Live presentations can also be done by the RIT Environmental Health & Safety Department, upon request.


All contractors who use hazardous chemicals at RIT must maintain MSDSs/SDSs on site and provide the information to RIT upon request.

Faculty, staff and students will be informed in the event that contractors will be using chemicals in their area, as needed. Precautionary measures necessary to protect themselves from hazardous chemicals, when applicable, will be communicated through the FMS project manager or EH&S.

Contractors will be required to maintain labeling on all hazardous chemicals in accordance with the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard. All labeling must be legible and in English.

All of the contractor’s hazardous materials shall be properly stored while on campus, in order to reduce the likelihood of an unintended release or exposure.


Contact the RIT Environmental Health and Safety Department with any questions at (585) 475-2040.