YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO KNOW

ABOUT HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES IN YOUR WORKPLACE AND COMMUNITY

Publication of the NJIT Department of Health & Environmental Safety
(973) 596 - 3059
December 2009

The RIGHT TO KNOW ACT

The New Jersey Worker and the Community Right to Know Act requires public and private employers to pro­vide information about hazardous substances at their workplaces. The Act:

  • Informs public employees about chemical hazards at their workplace so they can work safely with these hazardous substances;
  • Helps firefighters, police, and other emergency responders adequately plan for and respond to incidents such as fires, explosions or spills;
  • Provides data for monitoring and tracking hazard­ous substances in the workplace and the environment.

 

THE ACT CAN PROTECT YOU AND YOUR FAMILY

Harmful substances may be present at your workplace and at other workplaces in your community, or may be released into the environment. They may also be carried home to your family on your work clothes.

Hazardous substances can cause irritation to the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract. Exposure to hazardous substances has been linked to health problems such as cancer, birth defects, and heart, lung and kidney diseases. These diseases may develop many years after exposure. As an employee of a publicly supported institution, you can obtain information about hazardous substances that may harm you or your family from documents in your workplace's Right to Know (RTK) central file.

Knowing about hazardous substances and how they harm you can help you obtain the proper diagnosis and treatment if you should become sick. More importantly, awareness about hazardous substances and your potential exposure to them can help you make important decisions about your employment.

HOW THE ACT WORKS

Employers covered by the Act must complete surveys listing the names and amounts of hazardous chemicals stored and used at their workplaces.

Right to Know Surveys are completed by public agencies and sent to the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (NJDHSS).

Community Right to Know Surveys are completed by private employers and sent to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP).

Copies of these surveys are required to be sent to local fire and police departments, designated Right to Know county agencies (mostly county health departments), and local emergency planning committees.

Public employers are required to label containers according to the New Jersey Right to Know Act and PEOSHA, and maintain a Right To Know Central File that contains information about hazardous substances at their facilities. Private employers are required to label containers according to OSHA and the New Jersey Right to Know Act.


The following three agencies work together to implement the Worker and Community Right to Know Act:


New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services

The State agency enforces all provisions of the Right to Know Act in public work­places and the Right to Know labeling in private workplaces. The Program prepares Hazardous Substance Fact Sheets, the Right To Know brochure, and other materials to increase awareness of hazardous chemicals and help employ­ers comply with the Right To Know Act. Printed materials are available upon request and many are translated into Spanish.


New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

This State agency enforces the community provisions of the Right to Know Act in the private sector (except for labeling). The Department is also responsible for implementing Title III (Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know) of the Federal Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA), which establishes requirements for indus­try regarding emergency planning and reporting of hazardous chemicals.

 

New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development

This State agency collects Right to Know fees from private employers and inves­tigates complaints by public employees who suspect they are being discriminated against for exercising their rights under the Right to Know Act.

HOW PUBLIC EMPLOYERS COMPLY WITH THE RIGHT TO KNOW ACT

Public employers have the responsibility to assist workers in learning about the hazards of the products they work with. The employer must:

  1. Complete the Right to Know Survey
  2. Label Containers
  3. Create and Maintain a Right to Know Central File
  4. Display the Right to Know Poster

NJIT personnel can obtain a copy of the survey by contacting the Department of Health & Environmental Safety at. (973) 596 - 3059. Specht Bldg, room 9.

HOW TO USE YOUR WORKPLACE RIGHTS TO PROTECT YOUR HEALTH

The Right to Know Act gives employees certain rights and access to information about hazardous chemicals in their workplace. This information, kept in the Right To Know Central File, informs workers about the health hazards of chemi­cals and ways to reduce or prevent their exposure to the chemical hazards. Learn to work safely with chemical hazards to protect your health and the health of your family members.

To do so:

  1. Work only with labeled containers.
  2. Check your workplace Right To Know Survey to find out which products contain hazardous chemicals.
  3. Read Material Safety Data Sheets and Hazardous Substance Fact Sheets about the health hazards of the hazardous chemicals in the products. These documents are kept in the RIGHT TO KNOW central file.

You do not have to work with a product if your employer has not given you the ingredient information you requested in writing within five working days. Call the NJIT Environmental Health & Safety Office for more information at. (973) 596 – 3059 before you refuse to work with a product.

HOW TO OBTAIN INFORMATION AT NJIT

You can obtain copies of the Right to Know Survey, and Hazardous Substance Fact Sheets from your designated Right to Know department listed below:

  • NJIT Department of Health & Environmental Safety  --  973-596 – 3059
  • NJIT Department of Public Safety  --   973 596 - 3111
    The Central File is located in Police Headquarters at the Parking Deck

For more information about the program and training, contact the NJIT Department of Health & Environmental Safety at (973) 596 – 3059.  Should there be an actual emergency contact NJIT Office of Public Safety at (973) 596 - 3111