The Hazard Communication Standard (also known as Haz-Com or HCS) was first implemented in 1983, but the standard only applied to manufacturers, distributors, and importers of chemical products. In August 1987, OSHA expanded HCS to include the nonmanufacturing sector. Since then, contractors have had to:

  1. Prepare a list of hazardous chemicals on the jobsite.
  2. Obtain a manufacturer prepared Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for each chemical.
  3. Make sure all containers of hazardous substances are properly labeled or tagged.
  4. Provide employees with information and training on hazardous chemicals in their work areas.
  5. Prepare and implement a written hazard communication program.

Hazardous Chemicals in Masonry Work
Masonry work may not seem hazardous from a chemical standpoint -- and certainly it is much less so than many trades. Yet real hazards do exist. In addition to brick-cleaning products, which contain acid, masons may be exposed to petroleum-based water-repellent coatings.Dust from the cutting, drilling, and demolition of solid masonry materials can cause masons and laborers problems. Ingredients in mortar, such as lime, can cause allergic reactions, including burning sensations and rashes. Blood poisoning can occur when skin is broken and cement enters the bloodstream.

Compliance Isn't Difficult
Complying with Haz-Com is aggravating initially because of the time and effort involved in setting up files and conducting the initial training of foremen and superintendents. Still, while compliance isn't difficult, it often is disregarded. Consequently, violations of Haz-Com are a favorite and easy target of OSHA inspectors. In fact, the HCS ranks as the most frequently cited OSHA standard in construction.Employee Information and Training
The most important part of Haz-Com is getting information into employees' hands. OSHA states that all employees must be informed of the law and their rights under the law. Employees must be told of their actual and potential exposure to these chemicals and the possible physical and health effects.