The Illinois Right to Know law requires an employer to provide an employee with information about toxic substances (that pose known or suspected health hazards) in work areas. It is required for public sector employers, but not for private employers.
Employers must display a poster of employee rights in a public place. These notices can be found on the Illinois Complete Labor Law poster. I know that the employer must also post and/or provide:
Material Safety Data Sheets
The MSDS lists each ingredient in a product that makes it hazardous. The MSDS also includes information about physical properties, fire and explosion hazards, reactivity data, health hazards, safe handling and use directions, protective gear requirements, and disposal information.
MSDSs must be kept readily available for inspection by employees in their work areas during each work shift. An employee, his physician, or his legal representative, are entitled to a copy of a MSDS within 10 days of a written request. If the employee does not receive a response to the written request within 10 days, it is the employee’s right to refuse to work with the material until a response is received.
MSDSs must be kept available for at least 10 years after the material is no longer used, produced, or stored on the work site.
I understand that each container of hazardous material in the work place must be labeled with the identity of the product and the appropriate hazard warnings. Containers holding 10 gallons or less, intended for the immediate use of the employee filling the container, are exempt hem the labeling requirements. Pipes, vats, and other fixed containers must also have their contents identified.
Employees who are exposed to toxic substances should be trained at the start of employment or transfer, and annually thereafter. Employees should be taught the hazards of exposure to the substances, how to work safely with them, and how to read the MSDS and labels.
I read that this law protects an employee’s right to obtain the above information. Workers may not be disciplined or discharged for exercising their rights under this law. Employers found to be in violation of the Act are subject to a fine of $1,000 for each violation.