It’s been just over one year since Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) announced changes to its Hazard Communication (HazCom) Standard that will integrate the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) into OSHA’s HazCom standard. The deadline for compliance training is December 1, 2013. According to the agency’s website, when the original HazCom Standard was implemented in 1983, it gave the workers the ‘right to know,' but the new Globally Harmonized System gives workers the ‘right to understand.'
Both the old and the new standards requires chemical manufacturers and importers to evaluate the chemicals they produce or import and provide hazard information to employers and workers by putting labels on containers and preparing safety data sheets. The old standard allowed employers to put that hazard information on labels and material safety data sheets in whatever format they chose. The new standard requires that information to be presented using the standard GHS which provides a single set of harmonized criteria for classifying chemicals according to various health hazards (e.g., irritation, sensitization and carcinogenicity) and physical hazards (e.g., fire, explosion and corrosion), and specifies model formats and substantive requirements for labels and safety data sheets.
The major changes to HazCom standard are:
- Hazard classification: Chemical manufacturers and importers are required to determine the hazards of the chemicals they produce or import. Hazard classification under the new, updated standard provides specific criteria to address health and physical hazards as well as classification of chemical mixtures.
- Labels: Chemical manufacturers and importers must provide a label that includes a signal word, pictogram, hazard statement, and precautionary statement for each hazard class and category.
- Safety Data Sheets: The new format requires 16 specific sections, ensuring consistency in presentation of important protection information.
- Information and training: To facilitate understanding of the new system, the new standard requires that workers be trained by December 1, 2013 on the new label elements and safety data sheet format, in addition to the current training requirements.
Emergency Film Group’s Global Harmonization & the Hazard Communication Standard DVD training program focuses on OSHA’s changes to the Hazcom Standard. The program includes descriptions of the classifications and subcategories of physical & health hazards of chemicals, information that must be included on a label, signal words, pictograms, hazard statements, the 16 sections of safety data sheets and an instructor's CD-Rom. To learn more, read here. . .