The final deadline in OSHA’s four-stage conversion to the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) occurs in 2016. Companies will now have to be in full compliance with the revised hazard communication standard (HCS).
The final deadline is scheduled for June 1, 2016. According to the OSHA document, Small Entity Compliance Guide for Employers That Use Hazardous Chemicals:
“If an employer identifies new hazards after December 1, 2015, due to the reclassification of the hazardous chemicals, it has six months, until June 1, 2016, to ensure that those hazards are included in the hazard communication program, workplace labeling reflects those new hazards, and employees are trained on the new hazards.”
What about secondary containers? OSHA says:
“When a secondary container is used for longer than one shift, a label needs to be applied to the secondary container. This label must contain two key pieces of information: the identity of the hazardous chemical(s) in the container (e.g., chemical name) and the hazards present. There are many ways to communicate this hazard information. Employers should select a system that will work for each location.”
OSHA required employers, manufacturers, importers and distributors of hazardous chemicals to meet three previous deadlines:
- Dec. 1, 2013: Employers must train employees about the format and presentation of the new GHS labels and safety data sheets (SDSs) they will be seeing in the workplace.
- June 1, 2015: All new labels and SDSs from manufacturers, importers and distributors had to be finished by this date.
- Dec. 1, 2015: Manufacturers, importers and distributors could no longer use 1994 HCS-compliant labels as of this date.
OSHA adopted GHS in 2012 so that labels and SDSs would be consistent with those used in most parts of the world.
HCS is the second most violated standard cited by federal OSHA. From October 2014 to September 2015, HCS was cited 5,482 times in 3,055 federal OSHA inspections for a total of $3,308,262 in proposed penalties. Only the fall protection standard for construction is cited more often by OSHA.