On December 1, 2013, a lot of safety officers breathed a small sigh of relief as they filed away their sign-in sheets and other forms of “proof” that everyone had been updated on the changes to OSHA’s Hazard Communication (HazCom) Standard. One step completed…now it’s on to looking for updates for all of those safety data sheets!
If you weren’t among them, there’s some catching up to do! In March of 2012, OSHA incorporated the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) into the HazCom Standard. Although much of the standard stayed the same, there were some notable changes, and OSHA set a December 1, 2013 deadline for employers to teach their employees about those changes.
Here are 5 things that employees need to know about the GHS changes to the HazCom Standard:
1. OSHA Adopted GHS into the HazCom Standard
OSHA has chosen to incorporate GHS to help increase employees’ understanding of hazards in the workplace, account for changes in the workforce, adapt to globalization and increase worker safety.
2. Chemical Hazards Are Now Classified Differently
Chemical manufacturers and importers have always had to determine what hazards are present in the chemicals they produce or import – but there were no criteria to follow. Now, specific health, physical and environmental hazards are outlined in the standard and must be identified.
3. Labels Are Going to Look Different
Hazardous chemicals always needed to have labels, but OSHA did not specify the format. Now, labels must have a signal word, pictograms, hazard statements, and precautionary statements for each hazard class and category.
4. Safety Data Sheets Now Have a Specified Format
Although safety data sheets have always been required for hazardous chemicals, OSHA never specified the format for them. Now, safety data sheets have a standardized 16-section format that helps make it easier for everyone to find the information they need quickly.
5. The HazCom Standard Is Likely to Evolve
As changes are made to GHS, OSHA is likely to adopt those changes to keep the HazCom Standard aligned with GHS.
Still feeling a little overwhelmed? Download our white paper that explains the new GHS labels, including what the pictograms and signal words mean.
You tell us: How has your transition been around GHS? Are there still things that you wonder about? Let us know in the comments section below!