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Hazard Communication


01.01  This policy establishes a Hazard Communication Program (HCP) for complying with    Chapters 502 (Hazard Communication Act) and 506 (Public Employer Community Right-To-Know Act) of the Texas Health and Safety Code.

The regulations of the Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS) are available online at

 01.02 This policy constitutes the written hazard communication program for the university workplace. Departments using hazardous chemicals must develop a written program for the specific areas in which the Texas Hazard Communication Act (THCA) applies to their operation. EHS&RM will provide a template for departments to use.

 01.03 This policy establishes procedures for complying with provisions of the THCA regarding hazardous chemicals in the workplace and for providing information to university employees and to members of the community who may be exposed to those chemicals.

 01.04 Environmental Health, Safety & Risk Management (EHS&RM) has primary responsibility for assuring that the University complies with all applicable Federal and State regulations and policies associated with hazard communications.  The EHS&RM Office can apply more stringent standards if it deems it necessary for the safety of the students, faculty and staff. 

 01.05 Throughout this policy, the term “hazardous chemicals” refers to any materials that may pose a physical hazard or a health hazard. This includes chemicals in all physical forms – liquid, solid, gas, vapor, fumes, and mist -- without regard to whether they are contained.  Health hazards are those chemicals that cause either acute or chronic effects upon exposure such as carcinogens, toxic, irritants, corrosives, neurotoxins, etc.  Those chemicals with physical hazard can cause immediate bodily harm from characteristics of flammability, a strong oxidizer.

 01.06 Due to security considerations, lists of hazardous chemicals and their Safety Data Sheet (SDS) information should not be posted on a university or departmental web site without prior written approval of EHS&RM.

01.07  Non-compliance with this policy can result in violations being charged against the University by regulatory agencies, as well as the assessment of fines and other costs. Disciplinary action may be taken against university personnel and students who do not comply with this policy and associated regulations.


02.01  Employee: A full-time or part-time faculty, staff, and student worker whose compensation is provided, controlled or dispensed by the University.

02.02  Extremely Hazardous Substance (EHS): material determined by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to be potentially hazardous to life and health if released. EHS’s are listed in 40 CFR 355 (Appendices A and B

02.03  Globally Harmonized System (GHS): adopted by OSHA is a revision to the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) which will provide a common and coherent approach to classifying chemicals and communicating hazard information on labels and safety data sheets. The revised standard will improve the quality and consistency of hazard information in the workplace, making it safer for workers by providing easily understandable information on appropriate handling and safe use of hazardous chemicals.

 02.04 Hazard Communication Program: A written program that describes how the elements of the program will be met in the workplace and work areas. This program must include instructions on labeling, SDS, employee information, and training.

 02.05 Health Hazard: A chemical for which there is statistically significant evidence based on at least one study conducted in accordance with established scientific principles that acute or chronic health effects may occur in exposed employees.

02.06 Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC): A committee formed under the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA) section 301, and recognized by the State Emergency Response Commission for the purposes of emergency planning and public information. The University is covered by the Hays County LEPC.

02.07  Safety Data Sheet (SDS): Formerly called Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) a document that provides detailed information about a material, including any hazards associated with the material.  The Globally Harmonized System (GHS) SDS has a 16 section in a set order with minimum prescribed information.  

02.08  Penalties: Sums of money prescribed by the THCA which constitute administrative penalties and civil or criminal fines. These may range from $50 to $100,000 for each violation of the THCA.

02.09  Physical Hazard: A chemical for which there is scientifically valid evidence that it is a combustible liquid, a compressed gas, explosive, flammable, an organic peroxide, an oxidizer, pyrophoric, unstable (reactive), or water-reactive.

02.10  Texas Tier Two Report: An annual report required to be sent to TDSHS on hazardous and extremely hazardous chemicals above a threshold reporting level. Copies of the report are made available to the LEPC and local fire department (San Marcos Fire Department). 

02.11  Work area:  A department, section, studio, lab, room or defined space where hazardous chemicals are used and where employees are present.

02.12  Work Area Chemical List (WACL): A list of specific chemicals in use or stored in each work area. The list contains chemical name, common name, storage location, manufacturer/distributor name, catalog number pertaining to the chemical name, and quantity in use or storage. For purposes of this policy, laboratory chemical inventories satisfy the WACL submittal requirement of the Hazard Communication Program.

02.13  Workplace: An establishment at one geographical location containing one or more work areas with or without buildings. Accordingly, the University is considered a workplace.

02.14  Workplace Chemical List (WPCL): A consolidation of all work area chemical lists (non-exempt) will comprise the University WPCL.


03.01  Applicability - The THCA applies to all university activities where employees may be exposed in the work area to hazardous chemicals under normal operating conditions or in foreseeable emergencies.

03.02  Workplace Chemical List (WPCL) - The THCA requires that employers compile and maintain a WPCL that contains information for each hazardous chemical that could be considered a health or physical hazard and which is normally used or stored in the workplace. The WPCL is a composite of work area chemical lists (inventories) maintained in each department. 

03.03  Safety Data Sheet (SDS) - The THCA requires that an SDS be readily available for review by employees. An SDS shall be readily available for each hazardous chemical purchased or used in the work area. The SDSs can be available through an electronic database or through manufacturers’ web sites. The web sites should be made readily available to all applicable work areas through signage and links to the SDS information in each work area.

 03.04 Container Labels - The THCA requires that original labels on incoming containers of hazardous chemicals may not be removed or defaced.  Chemicals transferred to other containers other than those for immediate use must have secondary labels affixed with the following information: chemical name, manufacturer name and address, health or physical hazard, target organ, effects and personal protective equipment (PPE) required. An employee must not be required to work with a hazardous chemical which has been transferred to an unlabeled container   other than in a portable container when intended for immediate use by the employee who performed the transfer.

03.05  Training - The THCA requires an employer to provide an education and training program for employees who use or handle hazardous chemicals.  Departments that utilize hazardous chemicals must develop and administer a written hazard communication training program appropriate to their department’s operation. At a minimum, employee training should include: applicable UPPSs, use of information provided on the SDSs and chemical container labels, the location of hazardous chemicals present in the employees’ work areas, the physical and health effects of exposure, proper use of personal protective equipment, safe handling of hazardous materials, first aid treatment for exposure to hazardous chemicals and safety instruction on clean-up and disposal of hazardous chemicals. Training records will be kept by EHS&RM documenting the initial training (prior to using the chemical) and the refresher training (at least annually) for all employees working with hazardous chemicals.  Alternatively, departments can utilize the training provided by the EHS&RM department staff through classroom setting and online training.  If this option is chosen, departments must ensure that their employees attend training or take the online training when it is offered by the EHS&RM staff.


04.01  Environmental Health, Safety & Risk Management - with regard to the University’s hazard communication program, EHS&RM has the following responsibilities:

a. Compilation and review of the departmental Work Area Chemical Lists (WACL) to comprise the University’s Workplace Chemical List (WPCL). EHS&RM will compile the WPCL at the end of the year as updated annual inventories are submitted by each applicable department.  EHS&RM will maintain each WPCL for 30 years from its preparation date.

 b. Preparation and submission of the annual Texas Tier Two Report and filing fee to the Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS). Provide the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) and the San Marcos Fire Department (SMFD) with a copy of the Texas Tier Two Report.

 c. Orientation briefings for staff, faculty, student workers and graduate students (who will work with hazardous chemicals), including employees’ rights under the THCA, will be provided by EHS&RM at the departmental safety training at the beginning of each semester or through online training such as TRACS.

 d. Dissemination of the “Notice to Employees” to apprise them of their rights under the THCA, as listed in reference the location on the TDSHS web site:

04.02  Department heads, account managers, and supervisors have the following responsibilities: 

a.  Employee Rights - Post the "Notice to Employee’s" poster in the work area.>

b.  For laboratories, provide specific training to all student workers and graduate students working in the lab on all topics covered by the general orientation training and topics described in 3.05. 

c.  For laboratories respond to EHS&RM laboratory safety inspections findings with corrective actions within five working days or sooner. Re-inspections of laboratories to document corrective action will be performed by EHS&RM and documented electronically.  

d.  For laboratories work with student workers and graduate students to compile and maintain an accurate chemical inventory in a standardized format provided by the EHS&RM office.  Provide the EHS&RM department the updated chemical inventory by January 31st of each calendar year at the latest. 

e.  Departmental Work Area Chemical List – For all other areas other than laboratories, compile a Work Area Chemical List (WACL), not later than December 31 of each year.  Supervisors must make each WACL available in the work area and furnish a copy to EHS&RM upon request.

  1. The person who compiles the WACL must date and sign it.
  2. The WACL must note chemicals present in excess of 55 gallons or 500 pounds at any one time.
  3. The WACL must indicate those chemicals currently on the EPA Extremely Hazardous Substance (EHS) list (see Section 02.02 of this policy).

 f.  Departmental SDSs - provide data in the work area for each chemical listed on the WACL and make the SDSs available for review by employees. Alternatively, the department can post a web site where SDSs are available online. EHS&RM laboratory inspectors will verify this information is available or a website is posted. 

g.  Departmental Training – for department other than laboratories (covered by 4.02(b)) provide an orientation training session for new and newly-assigned employees, including student workers before they are allowed to work with, or in, a work area containing hazardous chemicals.

  1. Content of training programs must include: the THCA, WACL, and SDS data as well as information on interpreting labels and SDS; the location of hazardous chemicals; acute and chronic effects of chemicals, safe handling procedures of chemicals, personal protective equipment, and first-aid treatment of chemicals that employees will use.
  2. The employing department will maintain a record of each orientation training for five years and provide it to EHS&RM upon request. EHS&RM maintains records of training for laboratory personnel trained through EHS&RM lead training or through online training provided by EHS&RM.
  3. The supervisor should use a training roster to document the employee’s participation in the training. This should include: date of training, name of instructor, topics covered, name of the employee, and the employee’s signature attesting to their participation. Departments may use either the Employee Training Roster or Employees training sheet to comply with this requirement.
  4. The supervisor should provide annual refresher training on all hazardous chemicals used or stored in the work area. The supervisor may give training throughout the year so as to cover all new chemicals introduced in the work area.

h.  Ensure all containers in the workplace are properly labeled. Employees will not be required to work with a hazardous chemical from an unlabeled container.

 i.  Provide their employees and students with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for the hazardous chemicals in use.

 j.  Appoint an official “HCA contact” for each hazardous work area.  For labs, a department chair rather than individual laboratory principal investigators can be appointed the HCA.

 k. Budget funds to adequately support the availability of proper personal protective equipment for employees and students exposed to hazardous chemicals.

 l.  Account managers who contract for services for the University that are provided on campus must ensure the contractor has a written Hazard Communication Program to cover their employees who will be working at the university job site. Account managers who contract for such services must assure that their contracts with vendors contain wording to meet the requirements of the THCA. A WACL with associated SDS’s must be maintained by the contractor at the university job site and be readily available upon request to university personnel. Failure to provide such information may constitute grounds for termination of the contractor.

04.03  Departmental HCA contact in each work area is responsible for: acting as liaison with the EHS&RM; maintaining department Hazard Communication Program (HCP), WACL, and SDS records; and ensuring that new employees are provided training before working with hazardous chemicals. 


05.01  The University must ensure that accessibility to information regarding hazardous chemicals is provided to the following:

  1. San Marcos Fire Department for dealing with chemical hazards during an emergency; and
  2. Hays County Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC).

05.02  An annual Texas Tier Two Report will be sent to TDSHS reporting all hazardous chemicals which exceed the Tier Two reporting thresholds.  These include:   

  1. Extremely hazardous chemicals listed by the EPA in 40 CFR Part 355, Appendices A and B (see Section 02.02 of UPPS) which have a reporting limit at the Threshold Planning Quantity (TPQ) in pounds, or 500 pounds on site (whichever is less)  at any one time for any chemicals listed on the Extremely Hazardous Substances (EHS) list; and 
  2. Non-EHS Chemicals - Hazardous chemicals that require an SDS and that are not included on the EHS list. This reporting level is 10,000 pounds on site at any one time.


07.01    Reviewers of this Policy include the following: 

Position                                                Date

University Safety Committee

Environmental Health and Safety                      November 1 E5Y

Specialists Hazardous Waste