Since 2013, changes to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Hazard Communication Standard are bringing the United States into alignment with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS), further improving safety and health protections for America’s workers. The GHS is expected to prevent injuries and illnesses, save lives and improve trade conditions for chemical manufacturers. According to OSHA, “The Hazard Communication Standard in 1983 gave the workers the ‘right to know,’ but the new Globally Harmonized System gives workers the ‘right to understand.’”
Major changes to the Hazard Communication Standard:
Hazard classification: Chemical manufacturers and importers are required to determine the hazards of the chemicals they produce or import. Hazard classification under the new, updated standard provides specific criteria to address health and physical hazards as well as classification of chemical mixtures.
Labels: Chemical manufacturers and importers must provide a label that includes a signal word, pictogram, hazard statement, and precautionary statement for each hazard class and category.
Safety Data Sheets: The new format requires 16 specific sections, ensuring consistency in presentation of important protection information.
Information and training: To facilitate understanding of the new system, the new standard requires that workers be trained by December 1, 2013 on the new label elements and safety data sheet format, in addition to the current training requirements.
During the transition period, employees must comply with either 29 CFR 1910.1200 (the final, updated standard), or the current standard, or both.
As an employer, you must follow these implementation dates:
December 1, 2013: Train employees on the new label elements and SDS format.
June 1, 2015: Comply with all modified provisions of this final rule
June 1, 2016: Update alternative workplace labeling and hazard communication program as necessary, and provide additional employee training for newly identified physical or health hazards.
For more information: https://www.osha.gov/dsg/hazcom/HCSFactsheet.html