04.02.2012 OSHA Revises Hazard Communication Standard

On March 26, 2012, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration published a Final Rule modifying its current Hazard Communications Standard (HCS), 29 CFR Parts 1910, 1915, and 1926. The modifications impact chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors, and all employers with hazardous chemicals in their workplace. The modifications conform the HCS to the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS), which has been under development since 1992 by an international coordinating group chaired by OSHA.

OSHA views adoption of the GHS as essential for companies competing in the global economy because different classification, labeling, and safety standards in other countries currently mean manufacturers, importers, and distributors must develop different labels and safety data sheets (SDS) for the same product when it is marketed in different nations.

The revised HCS requires chemical manufacturers and importers to review available scientific evidence to determine if their chemicals are hazardous. For every hazardous chemical, the manufacturer or importer must develop a container label using standardized signal words, pictograms, hazard statements, and precautionary statements, as well as a specific, 16 item SDS (f/k/a MSDS). Employers are required to train their employees on the revised labels and SDSs.

Deadlines for Implementing Modified HCS

December 1, 2013 – Employers must train employees on new label elements and SDS format.

June 1, 2015 – Chemical manufacturers and importers must comply with all provisions for preparation of new labels and SDSs.

December 1, 2015 – Distributors must only distribute containers with new labels and SDSs.

Until the above deadlines, chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors, and employers may comply with either the current HCS or the revised HCS.