While the transition to OSHA’s new Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) happens in 2015, businesses face a deadline this year that involves employee training.
By Dec. 1, 2013, more than five million U.S. businesses must train about 43 million employees on the new label elements and safety data sheet (SDS) format included in the HCS update.
Why does the hazcom training have to be completed this year if compliance doesn’t kick in until 2015? Because workplaces will soon start to receive products with the new types of labels and SDSs. Therefore, employees need to know how to use the new documents.
What will employees need to know?
- Labels: Chemical labels will include a signal word, pictogram and hazard statement for each hazard class and category. Precautionary statements may also be included.
- Safety Data Sheets: These will now have a 16-section format.
There are nine pictograms required in the revised HCS — eight are mandatory:
- health hazard (carcinogen, mutagenicity, reproductive toxicity, respiratory sensitizer, target organ toxicity, aspiration toxicity)
- flame (flammables, pyrophorics, self-heating, emits flammable gas, self-reactives, organic peroxides)
- exclamation mark (skin and eye irritant, skin sensitizer, acute toxicity, narcotic effects, respiratory tract irritant, hazardous to ozone layer)
- gas cylinder (gases under pressure)
- corrosion (skin corrosion/burns, eye damage, corrosive to metals)
- exploding bomb (explosives, self-reactives, organic peroxides)
- flame over circle (oxidizers)
- skull and crossbones (acute toxicity — possibly fatal), and
- environment (aquatic toxicity — non-mandatory).
The 16 sections on the new SDSs range from identification of the chemical to first-aid to disposal considerations.
OSHA’s new HCS was established to conform with the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS), an international approach to standardize hazard communication.
Until the new standard takes effect in 2015, companies can use either old labeling and SDSs or the new versions and be in compliance either way.
For more information on requirements for companies, see OSHA’s HCS/GHS webpage.