Globally Harmonized System (GHS) – Revised HazCom Standard

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Globally Harmonized System (GHS) – Revised HazCom Standard

The federal Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) under the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is now aligned with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). This update to the HCS provides a common and coherent approach to classifying chemicals and communicating hazard information on labels and safety data sheets.

Once implemented, the revised standard will improve the quality and consistency of hazard information in the workplace, making it safer for workers by providing easily understandable information on appropriate handling and safe use of hazardous chemicals.

The update will also help reduce trade barriers and result in productivity improvements for American businesses that regularly handle, store, and use hazardous chemicals. Standardized labeling will also provide cost savings for American businesses that periodically update safety data sheets and labels for chemicals covered under the hazard communication standard.

Hazard Communication Standard

In order to ensure chemical safety in the workplace, information about the identities and hazards of the chemicals must be available and understandable to workers. OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) requires the development and dissemination of such information:

  • Chemical manufacturers and importers are required to evaluate the hazards of the chemicals they produce or import, and prepare labels and safety data sheets to convey the hazard information to their downstream customers;
  • All employers with hazardous chemicals in their workplaces must have labels and safety data sheets for their exposed workers, and train them to handle the chemicals appropriately.

Major Changes to the Hazard Communication Standard

  • Hazard classification: Provides specific criteria for classification of health and physical hazards, as well as classification of mixtures.
  • 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. Precautionary statements must also be provided.
  • Safety Data Sheets: Will now have a specified 16-section format.
  • Information and training: Employers are required to train workers by December 1, 2013 on the new labels elements and safety data sheets format to facilitate recognition and understanding.

The table below summarizes the phase-in dates required under the revised Hazard Communication Standard (HCS):

Effective Completion Date Requirement(s) Who
December 1, 2013 Train employees on the new label elements and safety data sheet (SDS) format. Employers
June 1, 2015


December 1, 2015
Compliance with all modified provisions of this final rule, except:

The Distributor shall not ship containers labeled by the chemical manufacturer or importer unless it is a GHS label
Chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors and employers
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. Employers
Transition Period to the effective completion dates
noted above
May comply with either 29 CFR 1910.1200 (the final standard), or the current standard, or both Chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors, and employers

Below are some links to information on the OSHA website and from other sources to help you complete the requirements by the above noted dates.

Training

Links to Downloadable Information from OSHA

Resources

  • HCS/HazCom 2012 Final Rule & Appendices - In this final rule, OSHA modified its Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) to conform to the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).
  • Hazard Communication – explains the transition period from HazCom 1994 to HazCom 2012
  • GHS PowerPoint – This OSHA PowerPoint details the development of GHS

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