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What are the Michigan Right to Know amendments?

Certain provisions are contained in the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Act that give employees the right to know what hazardous chemicals to which they are exposed on the job, how they are harmful and how to work around them safely. These provisions require employers to do several things to provide this information to workers.

One requirement is the development and implementation of a communication system in the workplace. Second, employers must implement a written communication program defining the workers' responsibilities. The written statement should contain a full list of the hazardous chemicals that employees can expect to work around, ensure that they know about the dangers of performing tasks outside of routine procedure and show them how to recognize the substances in workplace piping.

The statute requires employers to obtain a safety data sheet for every hazardous chemical present in the work environment. Workers should have access to these, know where they are posted and be informed of updates. Additionally, employers must ensure that containers from distributors and producers are properly labeled. The only hazardous chemical containers that may be unlabeled are portable ones that employees fill from labeled containers during transfers. All workers must receive information and get answers to questions regarding hazardous chemicals during required training sessions. They must also be trained on how to interpret safety data sheets and labels, protect themselves and find certain data sheets. Employers also have to provide employees with information about the written communication program.

Since employers are required to implement these safety and health measures, workers who see that these requirements are not met have the right to notify the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Federal laws protect whistleblowers from any retaliatory action of an employer after filing a complaint.

Source: Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration, "Your Rights & Responsibilities Under MIOSHA", accessed on Jan. 9, 2015

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