5.3.1 Employee Right-to-Know Policy

5.3.1 Employee Right-to-Know Policy

In 1983, the Minnesota Legislature passed the Employee Right-to-Know (ERTK) Act, requiring employers to develop written training programs for their employees regarding the hazardous substances, harmful physical agents and infectious agents they are routinely exposed to in the workplace. To guide employers with creating these training programs, Minnesota OSHA underwent public rulemaking to add Chapter 5206 to the Minnesota Rules, which spells out the required contents of the program, including training, labeling and additional information.

In brief, the written program must include:

  • A plan for providing training to employees prior to initial or change in work assignment or conditions, and annual refresher training, including an outline of training content;
  • Methods for making ERTK information, such as Safety Data Sheets (SDSs), readily accessible to employees in their work areas;
  • A description of how labels, placards and signs will be used to identify hazardous materials or work areas where harmful physical agents are generated at levels approaching regulatory limits;
  • A list of hazardous substances and agents present in the workplace; and
  • The methods used to inform employees of the hazards of infrequent tasks and unlabeled pipes.

Central Lakes College is dedicated to provide safe and healthful facilities for students, faculty, staff, visitors, and comply with State and Federal Occupational Health and Safety requirements. As part of this effort CLC has collected Safety Data Sheets from our vendors for hazardous chemicals, ensured that containers are labeled and signs are present in the hazardous areas. Employees are trained about the hazardous materials, harmful physical agents and infectious agents they are exposed to on the job.

This program applies to all work operations in our college where staff, faculty and students may be exposed to hazardous substances, harmful physical agents or infectious agents under normal working conditions or during an emergency situation. Faculty, staff and students all share responsibility for minimizing their exposure to hazardous conditions.

The Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) Officer is the program coordinator for the Employee Right to Know Program. The EHS Officer will review and update the program, as necessary. Copies of the written program may be obtained from the Office of Environmental Health and Safety.

Supervisors are responsible for ensuring that employees under their supervision have been properly trained on the hazards of the substances and equipment they use. The Office of Environmental Health and Safety will support supervisors in meeting the training requirements.

Everyone who works with or is potentially exposed to hazardous chemicals, harmful physical agents or infectious agents will receive initial training about the Employee Right-to-Know standard and the safe use of those chemicals or agents prior to work assignment. A program has been prepared for this purpose and is outlined below. Whenever a new hazard is introduced, additional training will be provided. Training updates will be performed at least annually and may be brief summaries of information included in previous training sessions. Office of Environmental Health and Safety will coordinate with the Human Resource Department to ensure new employees are included in this program.

Training plan – The employee right-to-know training will include:

  • A summary of the Employee Right to Know standard and this written program;
  • Chemicals and physical agents present in their workplace operations;
  • Physical and health effects of the hazardous chemicals or physical agents;
  • The chemical and physical properties of the hazardous materials.
  • The physical hazards of chemicals (e.g., potential for fire, explosion, etc.);
  • The health hazards associated with exposure to chemicals, harmful physical agents and infectious agents.
  • The procedures to protect against the health hazards.
  • The work procedures to follow to assure protection when cleaning up incidental spills and leaks of hazardous chemicals;
  • The location of the SDSs and instructions about how to read and interpret the information on labels, SDS.
  • Training records are maintained online by the State of Minnesota Enterprise Learning Management system. Refresher training is conducted annually.

List of hazardous chemicals
Each department is responsible for maintaining the list of hazardous substance in their work area and also providing the copy of the list to the EHS Officer. The EHS Officer will update the list as necessary and maintain the master list. The list of chemicals identifies all of the chemicals used in work areas. The list of hazardous substances corresponds to the list of Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) and Safety Data Sheets (SDS). Staff can access the MSDS online by simply clicking on MSDS icon on their desktop.

List of harmful physical agents
The Environmental Health and Safety Officer will work with each department to maintain the list of the harmful physical agents that are present in the workplace in amounts approaching regulatory limits through equipment use, product handling, etc. Heat, cold, noise, ionizing radiation and nonionizing radiation sources will be identified for each work area. Department and area supervisors, directors and others with supervisory responsibilities are responsible for informing EHS of any harmful physical agents used in areas under their control or supervision.

List of Harmful Infectious Agents
The Environmental Health and Safety Officer will work with the Department’s Program Coordinator to create a list of infectious agents that workers are routinely exposed to in the course of assigned work. For further information, see the Bloodborne Pathogens Exposure and Sharp Injury Policy 5.5.

Safety Data Sheets (SDSs)
Safety Data Sheets provide specific information about that chemical. Department Coordinator will maintain a binder or access the MSDS online about every substance on the list of hazardous chemicals identified in their area. Staff can access the MSDS online by simply clicking on MSDS icon on their desktop.

The Department coordinator is responsible for notifying Environmental Health and Safety when a new SDS is received with the new products. Once notified, the Environmental Health and Safety Officer will update the online SDS database with the current information. The Environmental Health and Safety Officer will contact the chemical manufacturer or vendor if additional research is necessary or if an SDS has not been supplied with an initial shipment. All new materials to be brought into the facility must be cleared by the program coordinator.

Labels and other forms of warning
The supervisor or the department head at each department will ensure all hazardous chemicals in their area of responsibilities are properly labeled and updated as necessary. Manufacturer’s container labels should be left on the containers if possible and must list, at a minimum, the chemical’s identity, the appropriate hazard warning, and the name and address of the manufacturer, importer or other responsible party.

If transfer of chemicals from a manufacturer’s container into another container is done, the new container must have a label that identifies the chemical identity and any appropriate hazard warning. Immediate-use containers, which are containers of hazardous substances remaining under the control of one employee and that are emptied during the same work shift, need not be labeled.

OSHA has updated the requirements for labeling of hazardous chemicals under its Hazard Communication Standard (HCS). As of June 1, 2015, all labels will be required to have pictograms, a signal word, hazard and precautionary statements, the product identifier, and supplier identification. A sample revised HCS label, identifying the required label elements can be reviewed by clicking on the links below.


Labels for a hazardous chemical must contain:

  • Name, Address and Telephone Number
  • Product Identifier
  • Signal Word
  • Hazard Statement(s)
  • Precautionary Statement(s)
  • Pictogram(s)

Pipes or piping systems do not have to be labeled, but their contents will be described in the training session.

The Department supervisor will ensure equipment or work areas that specifically generate harmful physical agents at a level that may be expected to approximate or exceed the permissible exposure limit or applicable action level are posted with the name of the physical agent and the appropriate hazard warning.

Receptacles containing potentially infectious materials must be labeled in accordance with the Bloodborne Pathogens and Employee Right to Know Labeling Requirements.

Non-routine tasks
When employees are required to perform hazardous non-routine tasks, a special informative session will be conducted by the Department supervisor to inform them regarding the hazardous chemicals they might be exposed to and the proper precautions to take to reduce or avoid exposure. Safety Data Sheets will be available online about the hazardous chemicals used. The Department coordinator is responsible for ensuring this training is provided.

Contractors at the workplace
If a contractor has its employees working at the facility, Environmental Health & Safety in conjunction with the Physical Plant Director and Department coordinator will:

  1. Provide the contractor with location of SDSs for the hazardous substances its employees may be exposed to while working at the facility;
  2. Inform the contractor of any precautionary measures that need to be taken to protect the employees during both normal working conditions and in foreseeable emergencies; and
  3. Inform the contractor about the labeling system used in the facility.

Environmental Health & Safety or the Physical Plant Director will request the contractor to provide the appropriate hazard information concerning chemicals that they intend to us on CLC premises.

Frequency of training
The Environmental Health and Safety Officer along with Department Supervisor will review CLC employee training program on a regular basis and will advise management regarding initial or annual refresher training needs. Retraining is also required whenever a new hazard is introduced into the workplace. As part of the assessment of the training program, the Environmental Health and Safety Officer will obtain input from employees regarding the training they have received and their suggestions for improving it. This review will be performed annually; necessary revisions will be made to ensure currency and applicability.

Date of Implementation/Presidential Review: 5/1/2014

Date of last review: 9/24/2020

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