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Many states and localities have passed “right-to-know” legislation in the absence of federal activity in this area. In doing so, they face the dilemma of establishing mandatory informational programs to improve job safety, yet not burdening employers to the extent of losing jobs within their jurisdictions. The Right-To-Know Law in New York State has successfully implemented a program which guarantees employees information on all chemicals for which data exist [as listed in the Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances (RTECS)], yet has a minimal employer impact. The law is comprehensive in terms of the number of employees and the number of chemicals covered. The smooth implementation of this law is due to reliance on easily available information sources [Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs)] and the establishment of a technical resource within the state to assist employers with the gathering of information. This has been particularly important for the smaller businesses that do not retain staff physicians or industrial hygienists. This paper describes the essential features of New York's law and the outreach program that was developed for its implementation.
right-to-know, New York State, chemicals, legislation, provisions, coverage, toxic substance, employee, implementation, enforcement, Material Safety Data Sheet, MSDS, Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances, RTECS, training, record keeping, trade secrets
Chief, Chemical Information Section, Albany, NY