To better protect workers in today’s global economy, OSHA has issued a final rule revising its Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) to align with the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). The revised standard takes effect in stages, beginning in December 2013.
The final rule makes substantive changes in the areas of hazard classification, labels and safety data sheets:
- Hazard classification: The hazard definitions have been changed to provide specific criteria for the classification of health and physical hazards, as well as the classification of mixtures. These specific criteria will help to ensure that evaluations of hazardous effects are consistent across manufacturers, and that labels and safety data sheets are more accurate as a result.
- Labels: Chemical manufacturers and importers will be required to provide a label that includes a harmonized signal word, pictogram, and hazard statement for each hazard class and category. A precautionary statement must also be provided.
- Safety Data Sheets: Material Safety Data Sheets will be renamed Safety Data Sheets and will have a specified 16-section format
Provisions of the revised HCS will take effect according to the following schedule:
|December 1, 2013 All employers that use, handle or store chemicals||Train employees about the new chemical labels and safety data sheet format.|
|June 1, 2015 Chemical manufacturers, importers and distributors December 1, 2015 Chemical manufacturers, importers and distributors||Must comply with all requirements of the revised HCS by June 1, 2015, except: Distributers must include the GHS label on all chemical shipments as of Dec. 1, 2015.|
|June 1, 2016 All employers that use, handle or store chemicals||Update alternative workplace labeling and hazard communication programs as necessary, and provide additional employee training for newly identified physical or health hazards.|
During the phase-in period, employers will be required to be in compliance with either the existing HCS or the revised HCS—or both. If your company works with chemicals or other hazardous materials, contact us for additional compliance information.