In 2012, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration revised its Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) to bring it into alignment with the United Nation’s Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).
Alignment of the HSC with the GHS provides a universal, standardized approach to chemical hazard classification, labels and the use of safety data sheets (formerly referred to as material safety data sheets). The initiative promotes the use of consistent criteria for classifying chemicals based on health, physical and environmental hazards.
This significant regulatory change offers heightened health and safety protection to citizens worldwide. In the U.S. alone, it will affect more than 5 million workplaces and some 40 million workers.
Once fully in effect, OSHA estimates the revised GHS standard will help prevent 43 fatalities and 585 injuries and illnesses a year. In addition, the agency estimates $266 million a year in savings associated with improved safety and health risk management and $585 million in annualized benefits from related productivity improvements and cost containment efforts.
Improved compliance also is anticipated. Historically, the HCS ranks in the top 10 of most frequently violated standards for which employers are cited by OSHA.
Under the GHS, labels are required to feature a harmonized signal word, pictogram, hazard and precautionary statements, product identifier, and supplier identification. Standardized SDS will be used to simplify documentation.
Key implementation dates regarding GHS-HCS alignment include:
December 1, 2013: requires employees to be trained on the new label elements and changes on SDS
June 1, 2015: requires compliance with modified provisions of the final rule
December 1, 2015: requires distributors to ship containers only those containers that are correctly labeled by the chemical manufacturer or importer
June 1, 2016: update alternative workplace labeling and hazard communication programs as necessary, and provide additional employee training for newly identified physical or health hazards
UL Workplace Health and Safety offers On Demand eLearning courses in multiple languages to educate workers about Hazard Communication including:
- Hazard Communication for General Industry, Construction, and Healthcare
- Hazard Communication Mini-modules (15-minute overview courses) for General Industry and Construction
- Mini-modules on Labels, Pictograms, and Safety Data Sheets
Download UL's whitepaper, The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals, to learn more about GHS and HazCom standard, including labeling requirements and the full compliance deadlines