Hazard communication standards, or “right-to-know” laws, regulate how information about workplace chemical hazards is communicated to employees. As with most workplace health and safety standards, employee right-to-know laws have developed in large part according to standards adopted under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act), a federal law. Individual states may devise and administer their own work safety laws and regulations, but only if the state program has federal approval. To qualify for approval, a state plan must be at least as stringent as the federal law.
The federal law is basically a disclosure rule that requires private employers with hazardous substances in their workplaces to develop comprehensive hazard communication programs and to inform and train their employees about chemical hazards in the workplace.
Right-to-know compliance is part of every Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspection, regardless of the underlying reason for the inspection. Right-to-know violations are the most frequent source of OSHA citations. Beyond the physical dangers a violation may create for employees and employers, substantial fines may be imposed, making right-to-know compliance a high priority for just about every employer (29 CFR Sec. 1910.1200). A detailed discussion of the federal regulations is available.
South Dakota does not have its own approved occupational safety and health plan; therefore, federal right-to-know standards are the governing law of the state in all private employment.