Safety and OSHA News

OSHA’s revised Hazcom standard: What you need to know

To find out what’s in OSHA’s revised Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), you can read this 280-word story or the 858 pages that appeared in the Federal Register. We’ll also give you a link to the FR notice just in case.

Those in occupational safety knew this one was coming.

Europe’s adoption of the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) made U.S. acceptance inevitable.

Chemical manufacturers and importers still have to evaluate the chemicals they produce or import and provide information to employers and workers via labels on containers and material safety data sheets (MSDSs). Now there will be a single set of criteria for classifying chemicals according to their health and physical hazards along with uniform formats for MSDSs and container labels.

OSHA estimates more than 43 million workers will be affected.

The major changes to the HCS:

  • Labels must include a signal word, pictogram, hazard statement and precautionary statement
  • The new format for MSDSs requires 16 specific sections, and
  • The new standard requires workers be trained by Dec. 1, 2013 on the new labels and MSDS format, in addition to the current training requirements.

Products with old system labels may be shipped until Dec. 1, 2015. During the transition period, old and new style labels and MSDSs can be used.

OSHA did consider two alternatives to adopting the entire GHS: voluntary adoption within the existing HCS framework, and a limited adoption of specific GHS components. However, the agency concluded both alternatives would eliminate significant benefits of the new standard, namely that chemical information for workers would now be standardized.

As promised: You can find the entire FR posting of the new standard here (PDF), and OSHA’s HCS webpage here.

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  • Brian

    We are a normal manufacturing user of chemicals (not a chemical manufacturer). We use HMIS labels throughout our facility, and I know there was talk of phasing those out along with moving to GHS. Is anyone aware of what may be going on with that? I know we will need to update our MSDS books as new style ones become available from the chemical manufacturers, but I would definitely like to keep our current HMIS labeling system if it remains OSHA compliant under this new system.

  • John

    One World Order. Big surprise.

  • Gigi

    And Europe scores again…so funny to think that our little company here in the deep south is now global.
    Brian, check BLR’s site for phasing information. We have 5 years for the transition.

  • Soldtonorm

    Another article says this will save money and lives. They failed to mention the costs. We are adopting European inefficiency when we need a president and congress who will “just say no” to this type of self perpetuating bureaucracy.

  • Steve Saunders

    We were a world economy long ago. Standardization of safety labels, MSDS sheets, and other communication of hazards is long over due. There are no onerous costs or violations of our American rights, loss of freedom or liberty. Chemicals and hazardous materials are imported to our country from around the globe and our exports pass them on the way here

  • John

    Tell that to the Germans about the euro.

  • http://msn mimidunn

    No longer MSDS soon to be SDS, the change will be overwhelming to both large and small companies. The PSM program for large chemical industries is a burdensome standard, this will burden it more and I cannot imagine it making things that much safer. The same safety shortcuts will be made with chemical handlers and blame will still flow in the same direction.

  • Olcoot

    You folks are all beginning from the fundamentally flawed presumption that government regulatory intervention is supposed to be grounded in good sense.

  • Tammie

    As a Safety Professional, we knew this was coming over a year ago. It has just taken OSHA this long to decide how to make the ruling on this. It is a shame that it has come to this – currently msds and sds have the same content, just not in the same sequence. It is going to be extremely costly to US companies to comply to the labeling changes. Not to mention the cost of updating the MSDS manuals and training of the employees over every MSDS that is in their company. Which in turn will be passed on to the consumer. Look at how much the ISO series cost US companies and continues to do so. It has to be maintained and updated as the ISO standards change. It just adds up to the cost of international operation and trade. If you play ball with the world you have to adapt to their rules. Whether you agree with them or not. I personally feel like the world could learn to adapt to the US for a change. After all, we are the one’s that they always run to when they are in trouble and need help.

  • http://www.missioncriticalrescue.com Gordy Adams

    Tammie this will really make your blood boil. I believe the new GHS is unconstitutional. If there is a change in any regulation including the Haz com regulation (regulation as in Code of Federal Regulation) then it is supposed to be a register, open for review and comment and then sworn into law by Congress. This did not happen. Obama used an executive order and then engaged the United Nations to push it through as a “global” rule. Another Czar or who ever but this appears to be in total disregard for comment and review by those involved. I remember when it was rumored that the United States was going to go to the metric system as a kid. Obviously it didn’t happen as so many manufacturers would have to “re-toolded” their plants, machinery, etc. not to mention change standardized details, plans, pipe, nails, and on and on

  • Robert Simmons

    I am wondering just how many older Americans have suffered heart attacks from wearing ventilator mask and or working with Sodium Hydroxide products ?