Mar 24, 2012

GHS Adopted by OSHA – Hazard Communication Standard Revised to Focus on Employees’ “Right to Underst

Vancouver, Washington – March 22nd, 2012 – Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis and Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels announced that the final rule to update the Hazard Communication Standard will be published in the Federal Register on March 26th, 2012. This update will be effective 60 days after the date of publication and will incorporate aspects of the international directive known as the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). The revised standard, which many are calling HazCom 2012, is expected to affect over 5 million facilities and more than 40 million workers.

Although this final rule will change several components of HazCom, the four most significant changes will impact: hazard classification (criteria based definitions), labeling (must include nine label elements), safety data sheets (16 required sections) and training (all employees must be trained on the nine label elements and new SDS format by December 1st, 2013).

According to Kim Peterson, Director of Environmental, Health and Safety at Safetec, “OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard has historically been on OSHA’s top 10 list of most frequently violated standards. Employers will need to ensure that they have a plan in place to meet all of the compliance dates that OSHA has established.”

OSHA has made it very clear that one of the main purposes of revising the HazCom standard is to move it from a “Worker Right to Know” to a “Worker Right to Understand” regulation.

In addition to the December 1st, 2013 training requirement, most chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors and employers will be required to re-author current MSDSs into the GHS-compliant SDS format by June 1st, 2015. All written programs, training programs and alternative labeling must be compliant with the new HazCom Standard no later than June 1st, 2016.

“I believe one of the most significant issues employers face will be managing the lengthy transition period. During this time, facilities will receive Safety Data Sheets and labels in both standards; inevitable confusion will ensue as employees struggle to disseminate the correct hazard information.” said Jim Frohlich, CEO of Safetec Compliance Systems, Inc.

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