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Minnesota West Policies

Chapter 6 - Facilities

6.20.5 Employee Right-To-Know

Minnesota West Community & Technical College recognizes the requirements of the Employee Right to Know Act as passed by the State Legislature in 1983, with later amendments, and enforced as part of the Occupational Safety and Health program in the Department of Labor and Industry. It is the responsibility of Minnesota West, through the office of the Director of Facilities, to develop a written Right-to- Know program that describes how training and information of hazards will be communicated to the faculty, staff and students of the college at each campus location.

The Employee Right-to-Know Act is intended to ensure that employees are aware of the dangers associated with hazardous substances, harmful physical agents, or infectious agents that they may be exposed to in their workplaces. The Act requires employers to evaluate the workplaces for the presence of hazardous substances, harmful physical and infectious agents and to provide training to employees concerning those substances or agents to which the employee may be exposed. Written information on these hazardous substances and agents must be readily accessible to all employees or the representatives.

Employees have a conditional right to refuse to work under imminent danger conditions. Labeling requirements for containers of hazardous substances and equipment or work areas that generate harmful physical agents are also included in this program.

The college Director of Facilities shall be responsible for the college-wide program and shall delegate to the campus Safety Committee the authority to act as the responsible local agent of the college for the purpose of implementing and monitoring the Employee Right-to-Know program on their campus.

The campus Safety Committee, working with Department Directors and Educational Program Instructors shall be responsible for:

  1. Identifying hazardous substances, harmful and infectious agents within their departments and for insuring that employees under their direction are trained in the proper use of these substances and agents.
  2. Labeling containers of hazardous substances and/or work areas and for developing and implementing safety procedures for the use, storage and clean-up of these substances and agents.
  3. Developing appropriate infection control policies and procedures.

Copies of these policies and procedures shall be maintained in the respective departments or work area as well as in the Campus Safety Manual.

All employees shall be responsible for the safe use and storage of the substances and agents and for reporting all unsafe conditions to their respective supervisor or the campus Safety Committee on an Incident Report form.

Students are not covered under the Minnesota Employee Right-To-Know Act, but, it is advisable that they receive training in all hazardous substances, harmful physical and infectious agents to which they may be exposed: and that training must occur prior to laboratory experiences. Students may elect civil and/or criminal recourse in the event of injury or illness due to exposure in the educational environment.

Minnesota West recognizes that it is the employee's right under the Act to receive information and training on hazardous substances, harmful physical and infectious agents to which they may be exposed; and that training must occur prior to initial assignment and annually thereafter. It is the policy of Minnesota West that an employee has the right to refuse to work under imminent danger conditions.

Minnesota West recognizes that it is the employer's right under the Act to assign employees to alternative jobs until hazardous conditions can be eliminated and to request a signed statement from employees verifying that training was received.


  1. Hazardous Substances and Agents Inventory: An alphabetical inventory of all hazardous substances and agents shall be constructed and maintained in each department and educational program by the respective directors or program instructors. This inventory shall contain the name of the product, the name of the manufacturer, the location of the product in the department and the location of the MSDS reference book. (See attached form) Be sure to include any hazards that are produced in the course of normal activity in the department or program. Inventory lists must be updated when new substances and agents are introduced into the work place environment and must be reviewed at least every 6 months for accuracy. The Chairman of the Campus Safety Committee shall maintain a Master List of all hazardous substances and agents in a readily accessible location.

  2. Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS): The manufacturers and suppliers of all potentially hazardous products and equipment are required to furnish MSDS forms for each product they supply to the campus as well as any new products that may be added to the inventory. (See attached form request letter) All products and agents listed on the Hazardous Substances and Agents Inventory form shall have an MSDS form maintained in alphabetical order, by the department director or program instructor. The Chairman of the Campus Safety Committee shall maintain a Master File of all MSDS forms, in a readily accessible location. The MSDS must be available and training of staff completed before the hazardous substance or agent can be used on campus. If a problem arises in obtaining a MSDS from a supplier, a written complaint, complete with all background information shall be submitted to the nearest OSHA office. The campus will discontinue using the product until the appropriate MSDS is on file.

  3. Hazardous Equipment and Systems Inventory: A complete inventory of all equipment or systems producing potentially harmful physical agents or containing hazardous chemicals shall be maintained in each department. The operating manual will be affixed to the equipment or maintained in a file that is accessible by staff and students. All such equipment or systems shall be labeled with appropriate information. Whenever an area may have a hazardous chemical or contain a harmful physical agent in the atmosphere, the entire area must be labeled with a warning sign.

  4. MSDS and Inventory Reviews: All MSDS manuals, including inventory items shall be reviewed annually by the department director, program instructor or chairman of the Campus Safety Committee to insure that the manual contains accurate, current information. The results of this review must be documented on a form in the front of each manual.

  5. Labeling and Container Requirements:All hazardous substances shall be kept in their original containers with the manufacturer's label legible and intact. If a container is received unlabeled or if the label is defective, the container shall not be issued or dispensed from until a proper label is in place.
    1. Labels must list the chemical identity, appropriate hazard warnings, and the name and address of the manufacturer, importer, or other responsible party. The MSDS should assist in verifying this information.
    2. When a chemical is transferred from the original container to another, it shall be labeled with the same information contained on the original container. The only exception is when the substance will be used exclusively by the employee making the transfer and within his/her work period.
    3. Any equipment that generates excessive heat, noise, ionizing or non ionizing radiation, harmful vapors/ gasses, shall be labeled to warn employees of the danger.
    4. All department directors, program instructors and Safety Committees are responsible to survey and review their areas at least annually to assure compliance with the labeling portion of this procedure. All illegible labels must be replaced. Any employee discovering an illegible or unlabeled container should notify their supervisor immediately.
  6. Storage of Hazardous Substances: All containers of hazardous substances shall be stored in secure areas that meet the specifications established by the manufacturer. Access to these storage areas shall be limited to authorized staff and must be clear of obstructions. Doors must be identified with signs and/or labels designating this as a storage area of potentially hazardous substances. Local emergency services must be informed of any potential problems they may encounter while working a fire or spill situation. Oxidizers shall not be stored close to liquids of low flash point.
    1. Acids and acid fume sensitive materials will be stored in a cool, dry, well ventilated area.
    2. Materials which are toxic as stored or which can decompose into toxic components from contact with heat, moisture, acids or acid fumes will be stored in a cool, well-ventilated room out of the direct sunlight. Incompatible toxic substances must be isolated from each other.
    3. Corrosives must be isolated from all other materials.
    4. Chemicals must be stored and maintained at the proper temperature and pressure as described on the MSDS.
    5. All freestanding gas cylinders, whether full or empty, shall be properly chained or supported in a cart to prevent the cylinder from accidental tipping.
      1. Cylinders not in use shall always be tagged to indicate whether they are full or empty.
      2. Cylinder storage areas shall be protected from extremes of cold and heat. Storage areas shall be free from combustible materials.
      3. Oxidizing gases such as oxygen and nitrous oxide shall never be stored with flammable gases or liquids.
      4. Oil, grease or other flammable or dust retaining materials shall never be used with oxygen related equipment.
      5. The Building Services Supervisor shall maintain supplier agreements and shall oversee the delivery and removal of all compressed gas cylinders.
    6. Flammable gases and liquids, which are not in use, must be stored in a cool dry and well-ventilated area.
    7. Fire fighting equipment must be readily accessible from the storage area. No Smoking signs will be visible in all storage and use areas.
    8. Storage containers and storage areas shall be routinely inspected to assure the containers are properly stored, labeled, and that there is an up-to-date MSDS. The department directors and program instructors are responsible for the inspections.
  7. Personal Protective Equipment: The MSDS shall identify any personal protective equipment (PPE) required to protect the user from the harmful effects of the product. PPEs include but are not limited to the following: gloves, aprons, goggles, masks, respirators. The employer, Minnesota West, shall provide all necessary PPE. The employee is responsible to know and use the appropriate PPE to use for each hazard, with training provided by the college. Laboratory and shop areas shall be equipped with appropriate eyewash and emergency shower facilities based on the type of hazard present in the area.

  8. Training Requirements: Everyone who works with or is potentially exposed to hazardous substances, harmful physical agents and infectious agents shall receive initial training on the Employee Right-To-Know Standard and the safe use of those hazardous chemicals and/or work procedures, prior to the employee exposure.

    Whenever a new hazard is introduced or identified, additional training must be provided. All employees must be trained annually thereafter and a record of all training must be documented. The OSHA standard does not require students be trained but it is the belief of Minnesota West that all students should receive training with regard to any potential hazards they may be exposed to in the course of their studies.

    1. Training shall be made available by, and at the cost of, Minnesota West and shall incorporate the following items:
      1. Summary of the standard and the written program. The location of the written program.
      2. Chemical and physical properties of hazardous materials and methods that can be used to detect the presence or release of chemicals (including chemicals in unlabeled pipes).
      3. Physical hazards of chemicals (e.g., potential for explosion).
      4. Health hazards, including signs and symptoms of exposure, associated with exposure to chemicals and any medical conditions known to be aggravated by exposure.
      5. Procedures to protect against hazards (e.g., personal protective equipment required, proper use, and maintenance; work practices or methods; and procedures for emergency response to exposure).
      6. Spill procedures.
      7. Where MSDS's are located. How to read and interpret information on both labels and MSDS's. How to obtain additional information.
      8. Program areas and departments where employees may be routinely exposed to infectious agents as part of their jobs must provide training to those employees on infectious agent hazards. The training program must include the chain of infection, techniques to avoid self-contamination, hazards to special at-risk groups, recommended immunization practices and how to obtain additional information.
    2. Records of training shall be maintained by the Campus Safety Committee Chairman for a period of five years and made available, upon request, to employees and OSHA representatives. Training records must include:
      1. The dates training was conducted.
      2. The name and title of the person who conducted the training.
      3. The names of employees who completed the training.
      4. A brief summary or outline of the information that was included in the training.
  9. Availability of Information: Minnesota West shall make the Employee Right-To-Know program available, upon request, to employees, their designated representatives, and representatives of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

  10. Contractor Information: Contractors that perform work at any Minnesota West campus may be exposed to, and/or may bring hazardous substances into the Minnesota West work environment. During a pre-work meeting, MSDS's on hazardous substances the contractor is to use will be obtained and reviewed with employees in the work area. If the contractor's work area contains hazardous substances, harmful physical agents or infectious agents, the contractor will be given a copy of the appropriate MSDS's, our program will be explained, and the contractor will sign a release form. Sign off sheets will be kept on file with the job order and the Campus Safety Manual. The campus Building Services Supervisor is responsible for overseeing contractor information and assuring that the release form is completed. A copy of the Release form is attached.

Approved by: Ron Wood, President
Date: July 1, 2003
History & Revision: