May 29, 2012

OSHA GHS Final Rule NOW Effective

John Gran (@FishSouthBay) - The Globally Harmonized System (GHS) finally makes its debut. But don’t worry, there’s plenty of time yet to comply.

OSHA has announced that the final rule for GHS, or Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals, will become law effective May 25, 2012.

The effective date of the final rule is 60 days after March 26, the date of the rule’s publication in the Federal Register.

The new GHS rule will be added to OSHA’s existing hazard communication standard, or worker right-to-know law.

OSHA says the GHS rule will help prevent 43 worker fatalities and 585 occupational injuries and illnesses from chemical exposures every year.

According to OSHA, the GHS rule will affect over 5 million workplaces and 40 million workers.

There are two primary groups of employers that will be affected by the GHS rule:

  • 90,000 employers that are chemical manufacturers, importers and distributors
  • 5 million other employers where their employees use, handle, or store chemicals

4-Year Transition Period

4 Year Transition Period

OSHA will allow employers the following phase-in or transition period to comply with the new GHS requirements:

  • December 1, 2013 - All employers that use, handle, store chemicals.  Train employees about the new chemical labels and safety data sheets or SDSs (formally material safety data sheets or MSDSs).
  • June 1, 2015 - Chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors Comply with all the requirements of the GHS rule, except compliance with GHS label requirements for distributors by December 1, 2015.
  • December 1, 2015 - Chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors  All shipments of chemical containers must include the GHS-compliant label (signal word, pictogram, hazard statement, and precautionary statement).
  • June 1, 2016 - All employers that use, handle, store chemicals Update alternative workplace labeling and hazard communication program as necessary, and provide additional employee training for newly identified physical or health hazards.

Options During Transition

During the phase-in period, employers would be required to be in compliance with either the existing hazard communication standard or the revised standard with GHS, or both.

OSHA recognizes that hazard communication programs will go through a period of time where labels and SDSs under both standards will be present in the workplace. This will be considered acceptable, and employers are not required to maintain two sets of labels and SDSs for compliance purposes.

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