Workers have a fundamental right, recognized in the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA) law, to reasonably know what hazards they may be exposed to during the ordinary course of business or in the event of an accident. The employer has a duty to follow the prescribed law and train the workers about chemical hazards in the workplace, but no law requires that workers have to put forth the effort to make sure they know or remember what hazards they may be exposed to in the workplace. The Worker Right-To-Know laws were put into place to protect workers, but sometimes workers do not understand their rights, and therefore cannot exercise them. When workers do not exercise their Right To Know, then the law fails to provide meaningful protection. The Worker Right-To-Know law only protects workers when workers put forward the required effort to learn how to recognize and understand the potential hazards they may face in the workplace. Certain chemical hazards may not have an immediate effect, but can compromise a worker's health through chronic exposure (repeated exposure) or acute exposure (one-time exposure). Ultimately, it is up to the workers to protect themselves by having the necessary knowledge about chemical hazards in the workplace, whether the employer provided the required training or not. Knowledge of workplace chemical health hazards can save workers' lives and health.
The safest workers are those who actively participate in acquiring the necessary knowledge to protect themselves. Even better, they may participate in workplace planning to remove or reduce chemical hazards and unsafe procedures and situations. Workers should be involved in planning facility emergency plans to deal with accidental spills of chemicals in the workplace.
CHEMICAL SAFETY BOARD (CSB)'s
"CHEMICAL INCIDENT REPORTS CENTER" WEBSITE
To better understand and be aware of chemical accidents and incidents, workers may want to review the data at the Chemical Incidents Reports Center, a website sponsored by the Chemical Safety Board.
Throughout the day, every day, the Chemical Safety Board (CSB) receives initial reports about chemical incidents that have occurred around the world. The information comes from official government sources, the news media, eyewitnesses and others.
The sheer volume of incident reports received each day exceeds the investigative resources of the CSB or any other single organization.Yet sharing knowledge of these incidents may make it possible for others to take actions that may contribute to improving chemical safety.
Therefore, the Chemical Safety Board has committed resources to create and maintain the Chemical Incident Reports Center (CIRC) website. This dynamic, searchable online database of chemical incidents, although subject to limitations inherent in any compilation of information of this type (see disclaimer below), may enable or inspire actions by a researcher, a government agency or others in support of improving chemical safety.
Disclaimer: The Chemical Incident Reports Center (CIRC) is an information service provided by the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB). Users of this service should note that the contents of the CIRC are not intended to be a comprehensive listing of all incidents that have occurred; many incidents go unreported or are not entered into the database. Also, although the CSB never knowingly posts inaccurate information, the CSB is unable to independently verify all information that it receives from its various sources, much of which is based on initial reports. CIRC users should also note that the CSB receives more comprehensive reports about incidents that occur in the U.S.; comparisons made between U.S. incidents and those in other nations should take this fact into consideration.
Click here to go to the CIRC (http://www.csb.gov/circ).