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OSHA Aligns its Hazard Communication Standard with Globally Harmonized System

If you need OSHA Hazard Communication Standard Changes assistance discussed in this article call us at 973-366-4660 or email us at info@atlenv.com for details and a free estimate.

Written by Henry P. Shotwell, Ph.D., CIH, Vice-President and Robert E. Sheriff, MS, CIH, CSP, President

November 26, 2018; July 30, 2021; Updated September 14, 2021

A Brief Review of the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) Changes

 On March 26, 2012, OSHA finalized a rule which brings the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) in line with the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard, commonly understood as the “Right-To-Know” standard, was originally promulgated in 1983.

On October 30, 2017, the secretariat of the United Nations published the 7th revision to insure the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) to make the system more compatible with all nations of the world.

They have updated:

  1. Classification of flammable gasses.
  2. Extending Safety Data Sheets (SDS) usage on bulk cargoes.
  3. Labeling of small packages and containers with fold-out labels.

This document is 534 pages and can be found at https://unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/trans/danger/publi/ghs/ghs_rev08/ST-SG-AC10-30-Rev8e.pdf.

Here are the major points that affect American businesses:

  • MSDSs will henceforth be called “Safety Data Sheets” (SDS). The new SDS will be standardized into 16 sections:
  1. Identity of the supplier and the substance or mixture
  2. Identification of the hazards
  3. Information about the composition of the substance or mixture
  4. First Aid measures
  5. Firefighting measures
  6. Accidental release measures
  7. Handling and storage
  8. Exposure controls and personal protection
  9. Physical and chemical properties
  10. Solubility and reactivity
  11. Toxicological information
  12. Ecological information
  13. Disposal considerations
  14. Transport information
  15. Regulatory information
  16. Other information including information on preparation and revision of the SDS
  • By December 1, 2013, employers who are subject to the HCS (29 CFR 1910.1200) are required to have trained their employees on the new SDS format and label elements.
  • By June 1, 2015, chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors, and employers must be in comply with the new GHS changes.
  • After December 1, 2015, chemical containers cannot be shipped unless they have the new, GHS-compliant labels.
  • By June 1, 2016, all employers must have their hazard communication program updated to reflect the GHS modifications they must have their employees appropriately re-trained.

Why Globally Harmonized Systems (GHS)?

Many countries have regulations that are similar to the Hazard Communication Standard. Still, the difference in their requirements is that they frequently require a chemical producer to affix two, three, or even more labels when shipping abroad. This is to comply with the rules of other agencies, states, and countries. In the United States, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, Department of Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have different classification and label requirements. The GHS aims to standardize these requirements throughout the world so that anyone, can look at a single label and know the health hazards and physical hazards of the container’s contents. This will both increase the level of worker protection and facilitate the global trade of chemicals. OSHA also declares that the new standard will “result in cost savings to American businesses of more than $475 million in productivity improvements, fewer safety data sheet and label updates, and simpler, new hazard communication training.” https://www.osha.gov/dsg/hazcom/HCSFactsheet.html

What changes will be seen first?

Labels will now require specified signal words, hazard statements and symbols or pictograms. Standardized health hazard and physical property criteria will be used on Safety Data Sheets and labels.  On September 19, 2016, OSHA published its labeling requirement that will satisfy OSHA and DOT requirements under the GHS for bulk shipments of hazardous chemicals:  https://www.osha.gov/dsg/hazcom/joint_phmsa_memo_09192016.html.

In 2016, OSHA published an information document that updates the OSHA Hazard Communication Requirements that are compatible with the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) in a 432 page document identified as OSHA 3844-02*2016. This can be found at https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3844.pdf.

Atlantic Environmental’s team of industrial hygiene and safety professionals are prepared to help guide you through the transition of adding GHS modifications to your Hazard Communication Program. This includes revising annual hazard communication training requirements, updating written programs, and performing on-site training.

Our primary service areas for Hazard Communications are: New Jersey NJNew York NY, (New York City)Pennsylvania PAConnecticut CTDelaware DEMassachusetts, (Boston) MARhode Island RIWashington DCWisconsin WIMaryland MDMichigan MIIllinois (Chicago) ILVirginia VAIndiana INGeorgia (Atlanta) GAAlabama ALNorth Carolina NCSouth Carolina SCTennessee TNTexas (Dallas, Ft Worth) TXOklahoma OKDCArkansas AR, Florida FL. We can service most other areas of the US but additional travel charges will be applied.

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